MEC steps in as councillor standoff hits northern KZN municipality
KwaZulu-Natal Cogta MEC Sipho Hlomuka has stepped in to try resolve the standoff between councillors of Mtubatuba municipality which has led to a collapse of oversight functions.
The troubled municipality has been unable to sit for council meetings since June due to councillors not attending scheduled meetings, leading to failure to achieve a quorum.
“Other oversight committees at Mtubatuba, such as the audit committee and the municipal public accounts committee, have faced the same fate and this has had disastrous consequences for the provision of basic services to residents,” Hlomuka said in a statement.
Hlomuka has appealed to the councillors to put their differences aside and act in the best interests of their residents by resuscitating oversight structures and ensuring that the council performs its functions.
The local municipality was brought under control of the KZN department of co-operative governance and traditional affairs in March 2019. Since Cogta's intervention, forensic investigations have revealed corruption and looting costing the municipality an estimated R136m.
Hlomuka welcomed the steps that have been taken against officials who were implicated in the forensic report for various wrongdoing, including fraud and corruption.
He said criminal proceedings and civil recovery processes have been initiated against those implicated.
“A total of 15 municipal employees were implicated in the forensic investigation. Subsequently, 10 employees have faced disciplinary tribunals and were dismissed and four employees are now facing disciplinary processes. One employee passed away while undergoing disciplinary action,” said Hlomuka.
The MEC warned that council’s failure to meet and revive governance and oversight activity will further worsen governance-related challenges that have been plaguing the municipality and service delivery.