The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) has requested the Free State Provincial Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to institute investigations into the problems that are currently being experienced by Mafube Local Municipality, which is currently under section 139 administration.

The request was made when the municipality reappeared before the committee today to have a hearing on its audit outcomes. The Chairperson of Scopa, Mr Mkhuleko Hlengwa, asked why the municipality had received disclaimers with findings for three consecutive years, and why it had failed to submit its financials for the 2017/18 financial year. “The Auditor-General (A-G) has stated that the municipality has limited or no assurance from senior management, limited or no assurance from the audit committee, limited or no assurance from the municipal council and some assurance from the Municipal Public Accounts Committee (MPAC),” he said.

The committee was initially scheduled to appear before Scopa last week on Wednesday, but the failure of the administrator to attend the hearing led to the postponement of the hearing to today.

Scopa was informed that there are power struggles between the administrator and the municipal manager, which have led to the escalation of problems in the municipality and the breakdown of the relations between the two. The committee was also informed that there was a recommendation from the municipal council to be pulled out of the intervention, as the municipality believed that they are not being assisted by the current administrator.

It is in this regard that Scopa requested the department of CoGTA to conduct investigations on several matters. Mr Hlengwa emphasised to the municipality that due process should be followed. “There will be no pulling out of the intervention without due process,” he said.

The committee echoed similar sentiments when it was conducting a hearing with Masilonyana Local Municipality from the Free State province in the same hearing. The municipality, which is also under administration currently, has no administrator and the Head of Department (HOD) of Provincial CoGTA is acting as administrator. Mr Hlengwa requested the HOD to specify the details of when the administrator will begin working at the municipality. “We would like a date of when you are taking the administrator of Masilonyana to the Masilonyana Local Municipality,” he said.

Mr Hlengwa also stated that the committee wanted reports from both municipalities on all the matters that the A-G had raised in the audit report, so that Scopa can track whether there is progress from the municipalities or not.

Scopa has also indicated that they will monitor these municipalities closely and might even conduct oversight visits to these municipalities.

By Faith Ndenze
17 September 2019