DA calls on SCOPA to investigate crisis at Magareng

Ismail Obaray, MPL

DA Spokesperson on SCOPA:

The Democratic Alliance has today written to the chairperson of SCOPA in the Northern Cape to urgently investigate financial irregularities in the Magareng Municipality. The Municipality currently has no Financial Risk Committee, nor an Audit Committee.

The DA also calls on the MEC for Cooperative Governance, Alvin Botes, to place this Municipality under administration pending a full investigation into the financial status of the municipality. In a letter dated 21 January 2015, to the Mayor of Magareng, the Municipal Manager confirms that the Municipality cannot meet its financial obligations and that the conditions for a Section 136 intervention by Province do exist. This is confirmed by a letter dated 22 January 2015, in which the Mayor describes the Municipal finances as “unable to meet its financial and constitutional mandate.”

There has been no intervention or assistance to Magareng since the letters in January. Why is the MEC for COGHSTA content to watch another municipality fall apart?

This call comes after allegations that a R400,000.00 payment for a service provider had been wrongfully paid into the bank account of a friend of a municipal official. The payment of R400,000.00 was mislaid after three officials failed to verify the bank account number for the transfer. After payment, the money was withdrawn and transferred into a second account. The irregularity came to light when the service provider approached the municipality a month later and asked why they have not yet received their payment. It was at this stage that the chief financial officer noticed that fraud had been committed.

It is absolutely unacceptable that municipal officials are helping themselves to funds meant for service delivery. The service provider was responsible for the electrification of the Warrenvale housing development. We can never allow municipal officials to enrich themselves at the expense of the poor. The wrongful transfer of funds comes at a time when the municipality has been threatened with disconnection by Eskom, because the municipal account is overdue by more than R3 million.

Should SCOPA fail to heed our call, the DA will petition the National Minister of COGTA, Mr Pravin Gordhan, to intervene. The DA will work to ensure delivery to all residents in Magareng, especially those in the poorest communities.