Government determined to recoup misappropriated monies, says Nkadimeng

Wednesday, June 29, 2022
Deputy Minister Nkadimeng.

Government is going all out to recoup monies misappropriated from municipalities back into the coffers of the State, says Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Deputy Minister, Thembi Nkadimeng.

She made the remarks during the South African Local Government Association’s launch of its nationwide civic responsibility campaign, “Asisho! Let’s Say It”. It seeks to reignite a renewed social contract between citizens and local government.

The campaign is aimed at educating local communities about their duties and obligations towards the social and economic upliftment of their local areas by paying for municipal services rendered.

Speaking to the SABC on the sidelines of the launch, Nkadimeng said: “Provinces themselves have taken the responsibility of making sure that they do away with disclaimers and adverse [findings], and… [improve] accountability.

“…Two weeks ago, we met with the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority] and handed over 47 municipal cases [connected] to maladministration, fraud and corruption… with the intention of [getting] the money back.”

This, she said, is a demonstration of government’s commitment to have those implicated in the fleecing of public finances prosecuted.

“[By so doing], we will then deliver the services of roads, proper cemeteries, sustainable water provision, clean potable water and collection of waste. Our townships and rural areas are dirty, we realise that, but we need the resources to enable municipalities to be able to render those important services,” she said.

Releasing the 2020/21 financial year consolidated municipal audit report last week, Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke said over R255 billion was owed to the country’s 257 municipalities. Of this amount, 64% was no longer retrievable.

In this regard, Nkadimeng said it was unfortunate that municipalities offer services first before invoicing.

“[This] means if they're unable to collect, then they're unable to pay the water boards. They're unable to pay Eskom for electricity and for sustainable provision of water.

“…[This] means 80% of our municipalities are then living with huge debt [and] have already offered services…” she said.

Nkadimeng while some households could not afford to pay, others could. She said the campaign, ‘Asisho’ is about acknowledging that “yes, we know there are key areas municipalities need to improve on, but there are areas in which we need to be able to use and pay for the services for because we are receiving them”.

To address this, municipalities across the country have indigent programmes that offer free basic services to pensioners and poor households.  

Nkadimeng said it is important to concede that the trust deficit between government and citizens “did not just emerge from nowhere”.

“If you do not as a municipality provide proper services or provide them in a sustainable manner, it creates the deficit in trust and it makes people - even those who are able to pay – think, ‘why am I paying because even the money is going to be misappropriated’.”

The campaign will open up conversations targeted at:

  • Encouraging active citizenry in terms of paying for services to enable effective delivery by local government.
  • Promoting a capable and agile local government, with citizens at the centre of service delivery.
  •  Local government and municipal employees, who are committed to their mandate and aware of their responsibility to pay their bills, as enshrined in the Municipal Employees Act.