UTRECHT: 3 SEPTEMBER 2020
Honourable Speaker and Councillors
We have come to Utrecht today to address you on a very important subject of ensuring good governance as a prerequisite for long-term stability of this municipality. The residents of this rural municipality rely on eMadlangeni for the provision of basic services but what they actually see has a lot to be desired.
It is therefore our duty as Cogta, following the resolution of the Provincial Executive, to make an important announcement before this Council regarding the immediate future of this municipality. We are here to support and assist, not to point fingers or penalise.
Purpose of the address
The purpose of today’s address is therefore to apprise this Council of the Provincial Executive’s decision to intervene in this municipality in terms of Section 139(1)b of the Constitution to restore this municipality’s functionality in terms of proper governance, administration and, by extension, service delivery.
Background and summary
The decision to institute the constitutional intervention at eMadlangeni today is the culmination of Cogta’s previous efforts to address dysfunctionality at this municipality which has since March 2020 been engulfed with governance and institutional management challenges that have created instability.
This has manifested itself in the municipality’s failure to adopt its 2020/2021 Budget and Integrated Development Plan timeously whereby it contravened Section 52 of the Municipal Finance Management Act and the provisions of Chapter 5 of the Municipal Systems Act.
These challenges include allegations that the Speaker has previously failed to convene Council meetings when requested to do so by Councillors, the suspension of senior managers in contravention of relevant regulations and allegations of fraudulent activities by both Councillors and officials.
We at KZN Cogta have interacted with this municipality in an effort to assist it to resolve its challenges. The situation has not improved at the municipality and under these circumstances the Provincial Executive Council was requested to consider intervening at the municipality in terms of Section 139(1)b of the Constitution.
The intervention has been approved by the Provincial Cabinet and it is intended to stabilise the administration of eMadlangeni, to restore the general public’s confidence in the institution and to ensure continued service delivery for the benefit of the residents of this rural municipality.
I would like to note that this is not the first time eMadlangeni has seen such intervention. In the past, a similar set of circumstances, including financial, governance and service delivery challenges, led to an intervention which helped to stabilise the municipality. My hope is that this intervention will do the same.
Reasons for the intervention
In addition to the challenges I summarised earlier, the intervention we are announcing today is due to the failure by this municipality to hold its Councillors accountable for deliberately absenting themselves from critical meetings and thus collapsing the quorum and rendering the Council dysfunctional.
This municipality has also failed to institute consequence management measures for managers and other officials responsible for irregular payments. In this context, the eMadlangeni Council has failed to prevent unauthorised and irregular expenditure in accordance with Section 62(1)d of the MFMA. The Council has also failed to investigate such malpractices and hold those responsible to account.
Going forward, I as MEC for Cogta, am therefore announcing an intervention in terms of Section 139(1)b of the Constitution, 1996, at eMadlangeni in order to assume the functions specified in terms of Sections 51, 56 and 57 of the Municipal Systems Act as well as those related to financial management and service delivery, including project management.
To this end, we are appointing a ministerial representative to be based at the municipality who will prepare and implement a comprehensive recovery plan. Our appointee is Mr VM Kubheka who had previously served as Municipal Manager here at eMadlangeni and as Acting Municipal Manager at eNdumeni local municipality.
Our ministerial representative will ensure implementation of financial systems, policies and procedures, including preparation and implementation of cost-cutting measures. The administrator will be a compulsory signatory on the municipality’s bank accounts
The ministerial representative will also establish and act as chairperson of the Interim Finance Committee to monitor and manage the cash flow of the municipality, to approve or disapprove purchase requisitions and to ensure that the municipality’s cash position is not overdrawn. This newly established committee will have to meet and report fortnightly to the Executive Committee of the eMadlangeni Council.
The ministerial representative will also ensure the implementation of remedial action plans dealing with negative findings from the Auditor General, including consequence management against managers and officials found to have caused unauthorised and irregular expenditure. Our representative will similarly ensure implementation of findings arising from any investigations into fraud or maladministration or corruption and to initiate new investigations where necessary.
It is time for a fresh start in this municipality. After a period of instability and poor results, the people of Utrecht deserve that we give them a municipality they can be proud of through our hard work and flawless performance. The challenge for us here is to make sure that this municipality will soon live up to its promise of maintaining infrastructure, including roads, managing waste and delivering basic services to its communities.
As an elected municipal Council, you are now urged to accept this new temporary arrangement and cooperate with our ministerial representative to ensure a smooth running of this municipality and its return to normality until this intervention is formally called off. It is our shared responsibility to ensure that this municipality once again becomes a source of pride for its residents.
I thank you!