LYDENBURG – The provincial government responded to several questions posted regarding the state of Thaba Chweu Local Municipality (TCLM).
Mr George P Mthethwa, director of communications and ITS, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) of Mpumalanga responded to follow-up questions put to him.
Question: Why is the province turning a blind eye to this horrendously run municipality?
Response: The department has made several interventions in support of the Thaba Chweu Local Municipality. The appointment of the municipal manager, Mr Kgoale, is amongst the interventions to strengthen the administrative capability. This was followed by filling of section 56 managers.
Question: Why is there no intervention?
Response: The department has taken a decision to deploy a chief financial officer to provide financial management support after the suspension of the incumbent. This forms part of the interventions that are provided to the municipality. Thaba Chweu is among four municipalities in Mpumalanga identified by the national department of Cogta in which a team of financial experts and project managers will be deployed to restore financial, governance and service delivery sustainability. Through the Integrated Municipal Support Plan (IMSP) we have assisted the Thaba Chweu Municipality in dealing with the unfavourable audit outcomes. This was done with the assistance of Cogta, Provincial Treasury and Salga. The results were not favourable. However we will continue to pay attention in this regard until an improvement is realised.
Question: Why does the province have no interest in the way money is being embezzled and wasted?
Response: The department is deploying a financial officer as a support measure to strengthen the financial management of Thaba Chweu.
Question: The Eskom account has once again increased. Why is the province not intervening in this matter?
Response: The Eskom matter is a challenge faced by most municipalities countrywide. Part of the intervention by the national department of Cogta seeks to resolve the Eskom account and we hope a solution will be on the cards. The team from national Cogta will be working with the chief financial officer in addressing the Eskom account. Failure by communities, especially those who can afford it, and public sector institutions to pay municipal accounts has an adverse impact on cash flow. The fact is that outstanding debts from consumers are increasing further threatens the financial viability in our municipalities. We will further work with Salga and The provincial government responds to ongoing TCLM breakdown district municipalities in supporting municipalities to limit contestation around the billing by providing guidance of mapping between valuation rolls and billing systems; as well as charting the correct tariff structure and category of users to the billing systems.
Question: The forensic audit report is not being released. Why is this not being forced to be made public?
Response: Council and the municipal manager are still scrutinizing the report, and it will be released after the council is satisfied with the report. The municipality will be assisted to prioritise the implementation of the recommendations of the forensic audit report. The Provincial Treasury will further assist the municipality with the review of the control environment and support this institution to improve in areas as highlighted by the various oversight institutions.
Question: Does province have no interest in this municipality?
Response: The provincial government has demonstrated support for Thaba Chweu Municipality, as it is the case with all other municipalities. This is done to ensure the delivery of basic services and the development of local communities. Several interventions are being pursued to ensure that the Thaba Chweu Municipality executes its mandate in line with constitutional imperatives. The appointment of a municipal manager, section 56 managers and the chief financial officer are among these measures that seek to strengthen the administration capability for the realisation of the constitutional imperative. The deployment of financial experts and project managers is signal enough that challenges at the Thaba Chweu Municipality are addressed.