eThekwini’s wasted spending unacceptable, says parliamentary committee, Newsline

DURBAN – There is a “perception that there is a lack of appetite to deal with corruption” in the City of eThekwini and effective consequence management is now required, Parliament’s cooperative governance and traditional affairs portfolio committee said on Saturday.

The committee has instructed the municipal leadership to ensure effective consequence management against the perpetrators of financial misconduct within the municipality, committee chairperson Faith Muthambi said in a statement.

“The committee considers it unacceptable that the city has incurred a staggering R2.9 billion 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,” she said.

While the committee acknowledged the 436 disciplinary cases under way, it called for their conclusion to enable the municipality to regain the confidence of the people of eThekwini.

“Furthermore, the fact that there is a backlog of reports that deal with UIWF reinforces the perception that there is a lack of appetite to deal with corruption. The committee has requested the municipality for a detailed report within reasonable time on the status of criminal charges against the city manager regarding the Durban solid waste tender deal,” Muthambi said.

While the committee noted that the municipality had condoned R351 million of the irregular expenditure, it was disappointed that the city had not laid out a clear plan to investigate the irregular expenditure that had not been condoned. The committee had asked the municipality for an urgent conclusion of all investigations to ensure that consequence management was implemented.

“The committee has demanded a detailed implementation plan to deal with the backlog of 330 reports from the city integrity and investigations unit. The implementation plan should have clear timelines on operationalising recommendations made in the reports. The lack of a plan to clear the backlog undermines the work of the integrity unit and promotes impunity within the municipality,” she said.

Despite the existence of a “highly qualified workforce” in the municipality, the committee was concerned by the unhappiness expressed by the community regarding the continuation of water and sewage leaks that disrupted the well-being of the community. The committee found it ironic that the municipality had an “adequately and highly skilled workforce to ensure that the quality of service it renders to the communities is of a highest standard, but on the contrary, it provides inadequate service”.

The committee was also concerned that despite the growing population within the municipality, capital expenditure was seemingly dropping, which meant that residents were deprived of services.

Another area of concern was the municipality’s high expenditure on security-related services.

“While the committee acknowledged the problem of political killings in the province, it has cautioned against the excessive spending on security. The municipality has been requested to provide a proof of a risk and threat analysis conducted by the South African Police Service to substantiate the need for additional bodyguards for the mayor, deputy mayor, speaker, and councillors,” Muthambi said.

African News Agency