Midvaal municipality commits to remedial action

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pretoria - The Midvaal Municipality has said it will commit to carrying out recommendations made by the Public Protector following an investigation into the municipality.

Advocate Thuli Madonsela released a report yesterday in which the municipality was found to have breached financial and administrative policies and violated the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework.

However, Madonsela said she did not find any sign of fraud and corruption.

The municipality is the only one in Gauteng run by the Democratic Alliance.

Midvaal Mayor Timothy Nast said he was committed to carrying out the recommendations of the Public Protector and would report any deficiencies in internal controls. The municipality would also cooperate with any investigation.

In a statement, the DA welcomed the report, saying that it will be reviewing the rules that govern the actions of its public office bearers.

"We will be closely monitoring Midvaal to ensure that its systems and processes are improved further. Indeed, the leadership has been monitoring Midvaal since these allegations first surfaced," it said.

In the report, Madonsela found the appointment of one law firm to handle all law related matters of the municipality as improper. The municipality had retained the same legal firm without going through proper procedures for the past 30 years.

In that regard, Madonsela found that the municipality failed to follow proper procurement procedures when it appointed the service provider.

She also found that the municipality failed to collect debt owed to it by a vendor who acted as an agent for the municipality for the sale of prepaid electricity and also failed to collect rates and taxes owed by the son of a former DA councillor.

The Public Protector also found impropriety on the issue of sale of property by the municipality, saying it did not comply with the law. Title deeds of some properties, handed over by ratepayers who could not financially afford to keep them, were not transferred to the municipality but to a law firm owned by the DA Midvaal leader Andre Odendaal.

She also found that performance bonuses were improperly paid to certain employees who were shortly thereafter dismissed as a result of misconduct.

The Public Protector has recommended, among other things, that proper procedures be followed by the municipality and ordered that the Accounting Officer submit a report to the Midvaal Municipal Council to enable the council to deal with the non-compliance.

The council, Madonsela said, must investigate the conduct of the accounting officer, the chief financial officer and officials involved.

"The municipal manager must present an action plan on the implementation of the Public Protector's report within 60 days of the receipt thereof, and thereafter submit bimonthly reports on the progress made with the implementation of the ... corrective measures," said Madonsela.

The Special Investigative Unit will continue with the investigations.