James Masango MPL
Provincial Chief Whip of the Official Opposition.
The DA has noted the findings of the Public Protector (PP), Advocate Thuli Madonsela, of the investigation into the Dipaleseng Local Municipality, and has undertaken to monitor the municipality’s compliance to the remedial action, as set down by Adv Madonsela. However, we are dismayed by the failure of the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) to effectively manage and oversee service delivery by this municipality, and strengthen its capacity to perform its functions.
The report, entitled “Glimmer of Hope”, follows an investigation of the PP into the affairs of the municipality after violent protests made news headlines throughout the country. A copy of the report can be obtained by clicking here.
While many positives emerged from the investigation, the DA is concerned that the issues raised by the community were only addressed after the Public Protector started the investigation. An example would be the former Municipal Manager, Mr Patrick Malebye’s failure to report credit note fraud of over R1,5 million to the police, when compelled to do so by legislation – and the municipality only doing so when presented by the PP’ preliminary report. Furthermore, very little seems to be done to collect arrears in rates and taxes amounting to more than R94 million from residents, which would greatly enhance service delivery.
A further area of concern is COGTA’s failure to provide the necessary support to the municipality, as prescribed by the Municipal Systems Act. Sections 105 and 106 state clearly that the MEC for local government should establish mechanisms to monitor municipalities in managing their affairs, as well as to assess whether support is needed to attain developmental goals – and to take corrective action if deemed necessary. The department’s failure to do so shows either political favour taking precedence over the needs of the people, or the department’s own lack of capacity to fulfil its mandate.
The DA will use its oversight mandate to ensure that the municipality and COGTA comply with the remedial action as set down in chapter 13 of the report. While it is a pity that no new municipal manager has yet been appointed since Mr Malebye’s contract expired in December, the DA will keep a close eye on Mr JB Maseko, who has been deployed by the Gert Sibande District Municipality to act in his place. Mr Maseko is required to provide regular progress reports to council on complaints received by the municipality, and how these are resolved, if at all.
The DA will write formal parliamentary questions to COGTA MEC, Mr Madala Masuku, and ask him what steps are being taken to ensure that the necessary provincial support be provided to the municipality to manage its development planning and financial affairs within the specified time frame. The DA will also ask MEC Masuku to provide us with the action plans from both the department and the municipality to implement the remedial actions, within the specified timeframe.
In conclusion, the DA will monitor whether the quarterly progress reports on the remedial action by both COGTA and the municipality are submitted to the PP as stipulated.