Cogta committee wants consequences for R2.9bn in wasteful expenditure

The portfolio committee on Cogta wants a plan of action for the troubled eThekwini municipality.
Image: FILE

A parliamentary committee has called for heads to roll over fruitless and wasteful expenditure amounting to nearly R3bn incurred by the eThekwini municipality.

The portfolio committee on co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) urged the municipality’s leadership to immediately take action, saying it would set a bad precedent if the perpetrators were not brought to book.

“The committee considers it unacceptable that the city has incurred a staggering R2.9bn in unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful (UIFW) expenditure for the 2018/19 financial year. Lack of effective consequence management will lead to impunity and an increase in UIFW expenditure. It is in this context that the committee has called for speedy consequence management,” the committee said in a statement on Saturday.

While it acknowledged there were 436 disciplinary hearings under way, the committee called for these to be speedily concluded and for the municipality to report back on the outcomes.

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It also called on the city’s integrity and investigation unit to explain how it would catch up on 330 outstanding reports.

“The implementation plan should have clear timelines on operationalising recommendations made in the reports,” the committee said.

“While the committee notes that the municipality has condoned R351m of the irregular expenditure, it is disappointed that the city has not laid out a clear plan to investigate the irregular expenditure that has not been condoned,” said the committee.

The national and provincial departments of co-operative governance were asked to urgently help the municipality recover more than R1bn owed to the municipality by government departments to help ease its cash flow challenges.

The committee also called for an update on the status of criminal charges against the city manager, Sipho Nzunza regarding the Durban solid waste tender deal.

These were just some of the problems within the municipality which included basic service delivery issues and not attending to water and sewage leaks.

According to information received by the committee, 56% of ward committees were not functional, leading to the undermining of the constitution which called for municipalities to encourage involvement of communities in local governance.

“The question we ask ourselves is how is the municipality able to develop its IDPs (integrated development plans) without functional ward committees?” asked Faith Muthambi, chairperson of the committee.

She questioned how the municipality had employed highly skilled people yet provided inadequate services.

The committee also expressed concern at expenditure on security, including bodyguards for the mayor, deputy mayor, speaker and some ward councillors.

“While the committee acknowledged the problem of political killings in the province, it has cautioned against the excessive spending on security,” it said.

BY Naledi Shange

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