Cogta slams Emfuleni municipality as 'dysfunctional' as millions go missing

16 October 2020 - 21:03
By paul ash AND Paul Ash
Water leaks will deter anyone from investing in troubled and bankrupt Emfuleni municipality, says Cogta.
Image: SYDNEY SESHIBEDI/The Times DRAINED Water leaks will deter anyone from investing in troubled and bankrupt Emfuleni municipality, says Cogta.

Emfuleni Local Municipality is dysfunctional and showing no signs of improving.

This is the view of parliament's portfolio committee on co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) which on Friday blasted the municipality for its lack of procurement oversight and failed financial controls.

“It is extremely disheartening to realise that the lives of the people of the area are being affected negatively as a result of lack of both political will and administrative inclination to serve the people,” said committee chairperson Faith Muthambi in a statement.

Internal divisions, failure to investigate irregular expenditure in the previous financial year and a lack of accountability among senior managers were just some of the problems noted by the committee.

The municipality, which sprawls along the north bank of the Vaal river near Vereeniging, is one of Gauteng’s most densely populated areas, with Sebokeng, Evaton, Sharpeville and Boipatong townships lying within its boundaries.

Emfuleni’s troubles deepened this week after its bank account was blocked and attached by the court after it failed to pay a Chinese company contracted to install smart water and electricity meters.

The R492m agreement was signed in 2013 but after changing its mind mid-project did not pay the supplier.

No meters were installed.

Irregular expenditure topped R1.1bn in the 2018/19 year as a result of the municipality failing to comply with supply-chain management regulations or the Municipal Finance Management Act which set out the required process to solicit competitive bids and quotes.

The committee said it was “unacceptable that the municipality has no plans to remedy the 81 matters of emphasis highlighted by the auditor-general for the 2018/19 financial year”.    The municipality’s R586m deficit for the year was further proof that the financial recovery plan had failed.

Unreliable power and water supplies would also hamper its ability to collect rates and taxes, worsening the municipality’s financial situation.

The committee said widespread sewage spillage and water leaks would also deter any investors, undermining any hopes of creating jobs.

“Laws and regulations are there for a reason and can’t be adhered to only when people feel like it,” said Muthambi.

“This way of doing things exposes the municipality to high levels of risk that cannot be tolerated,” she said.

In a further damning judgment, the committee noted that municipality refuses positive private sector proposals, a government strategy for resolving SA’s socioeconomic ills.

The municipality is due to respond to the committee’s questions on October 23.

“This resolution is based on the desire to find workable solutions to the municipality’s problems and ensure effective service delivery for the people of Emfuleni,” the committee said.