MEC cracks whip on defaulting councillors

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Pretoria - Municipal councillors, who are found to have defaulted on their rates payments, stand to lose their jobs.

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Nomusa Dube-Ncube, has instructed municipal councils in all the province’s 61 municipalities to institute disciplinary action against any councillor found to have defaulted on his or her rates as this constitutes a violation of the councillors’ code of conduct.

The tough stance by Dube-Ncube comes after an in-depth investigation by her department into a number of compliance issues by municipal office bearers and officials, which included investigations into payments of rates by councillors. This is a universal obligation on all municipal residents, except those who qualify as indigents.

The departmental investigation has revealed that a total of R1.5 million is owed by councillors to various municipalities throughout KZN.

Reacting to the outcome of the investigation, the MEC said: “I am deeply disturbed to learn that there are councillors who are not leading by example in municipalities by not paying their dues to the municipalities which they represent.

“While the number of delinquent local government leaders is relatively small, we nevertheless view their conduct in a serious light because they are bringing their municipalities into disrepute,” she said.

The MEC said it was her considered view that they should not be serving in the important sphere of government.

“We need a local government that is professional, delivery-driven and free of the ills we have witnessed in the past. As leaders, we cannot honestly ask communities to pay for their municipal services when we ourselves are not walking the talk.

“This conduct has compromised the recent good audit reports from the Auditor-General, where at least nine clean audits were recorded, up from only one in the previous financial year.

“I have since ordered the Speakers of municipal councils to convene a meeting to deal with this issue without delay and report back to the department. We take a dim view of such practices and we want to see consequences,” she said.

Dube-Ncube said councillors who wish to dispute their account bills, must take the necessary steps speedily, as she cannot allow the figure to accumulate any further.

“Our municipalities can ill-afford councillors who owe rates while they depend for their livelihoods on ordinary ratepayers,” she said, adding that she will also extend the investigation to civil servants in every other sphere of government as well as Members of Parliament and Members of the Provincial Legislature in the province. -

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