Mothotlung: Much more wrong than one broken water pipe

The Madibeng municipality, under which Mothotlung falls, resembles more the beginnings of a town than one that has deteriorated. Most roads are gravel, while a few paved sections dart the sidewalks. These sections of paving are described by locals as interventions by the municipality to "keep Sanco [the South African National Civic Organisation] at bay".

By September 2012, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) uncovered fraud, corruption and nepotism at Madibeng, and recommended that urgent action be taken.

The findings could not have been news to the ministers who descended on Mothotlung this week in the wake of a service delivery march, calling for the community's patience and promising that services would be provided.

The findings would also not have been news to the marchers who protested for better service delivery this week, during which two people were shot dead and another later died during a stand-off with police.

Community members this week told the Mail & Guardian of allegations that the water pipe in question was tampered with, perhaps as an act of sabotage, so that a tender would be available for its repair to the benefit of the winning bidder. 

Tender fraud is rife here: the SIU's report identified myriad examples. From the R5.4-million grass-cutting contract awarded to a relative of the mayor to the R10.8-million's irregular expenditure incurred by the issuing of four contracts for the erection of high mast lights, which was referred to the National Prosecuting Authority for prosecution.

This municipality spent R24-million on funerals, yet payments were made to companies that do not provide funeral services, and R177 000 was split between  "training" companies who did not provide training at all.

Then there was the liquor budget of the municipality, of which R27 718 was spent in one month alone.

Tender fraud
In this light, the community's suspicion of tender fraud in the mysterious vanishing of water pipes might not be so outlandish, although it remains unproven: 341 municipal officials faced disciplinary action for non-declaration of business interests and conflict of interest amounting to R4.9-million by the end of 2012.

Apart from a tender, obtained through political connectivity, work is scarce in Mothotlung. Residents told the M&G that the main source of work opportunities were in the mines around Brits. One woman said she was told to pay a bribe of R3 500 for access to a job – a price she could not afford. 

The Madibeng municipality received consecutive disclaimers of opinion from the auditor general for reasons spelled out in breathless exasperation in audit reports: in short, almost nothing submitted by the municipality could be verified. The municipality ignored just about every good practice note, treasury plea, and accounting standard.

Although the municipality claims to have turned the corner in its latest annual report, the auditor general's office, in its 2011/12 assessment and upon the discovery that Madibeng underspent its municipal infrastructure grant by more than R70-million, said: "The municipality has not achieved its objectives of providing access to basic services, maximising job creation and skills development, uplifting the life of communities and providing poverty alleviation."

And yet, in spite of underspending on infrastructure, Madibeng overspent its total budget.  

It is also involved in several civil claims against it, all of which the municipality is opposing in the hopes that it will win in court.

Other municipalities
The auditor general has not been much kinder on other municipalities in the North West: 81 % of auditees in the 2011/12 financial year received disclaimer of opinions or qualified audit opinions. Supply chain management findings, or errors in how the auditees manage tenders or contracts, were identified in 96% of auditees in the province.

Meanwhile, a recent poll by survey firm Ipsos showed comparatively high numbers of potential undecided or disillusioned voters in the North West.

The nationwide poll conducted by the firm surveyed 3 564 South Africans of voting age. The interviews took place from October 22 to November 21 2013.

Ipsos noted that, in the 2014 elections, voters intend on "to a much greater degree than in previous elections, split their votes – ie vote for different parties on the national and provincial ballots".

Ipsos found that in the North West, the ANC was likely to maintain control over the province with a majority of 63.5%, while the Economic Freedom Fighters could become the official opposition, winning as much as 12.5% of the votes. The Democratic Alliance would likely win 6.5% of the vote, according to the poll.

But roughly 10% of voters polled in the North West did not nail their colours to any particular party's mast: 4.7% said they would not vote at all, 2.6% refused to answer, 1.1% said they did not know who they would vote for, and 0.9% were not registered to vote.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Sarah Evans
Sarah Evans

Sarah Evans interned at the Diamond Fields Advertiser in Kimberley for three years before completing an internship at the Mail & Guardian Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane). She went on to work as a Mail & Guardian news reporter with areas of interest including crime, law, governance and the nexus between business and politics. 

Kwanele Sosibo
Kwanele Sosibo
Kwanele Sosibo is the editor of Friday, the arts and culture section of the Mail and Guardian.

Related stories

Q&A Sessions: Frank Chikane on the rainbow where colours never meet

Reverend Frank Chikane has just completed six years as the chairperson of the Kagiso Trust. He speaks about corruption, his children’s views and how churches can be mobilised

Zuma maintains his true colours at Zondo commission

The former president’s escapades at the commission of inquiry into state capture are a far cry from Nelson Mandela’s response when summonsed to testify in the high court

Exclusive: Top-secret testimonies implicate Rwanda’s president in war crimes

Explosive witness testimony from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda implicates Paul Kagame and the RPF in mass killings before, during and after the 1994 genocide.

Klipgat residents left high and dry

Flushing toilets were installed in backyards in the North West, but they can’t be used because the sewage has nowhere to go

Madibeng has a ‘blatant disregard for the law’

The local municipality irregularly spent at least R443.8-million according to the auditor general’s latest report

DA leader bought wife a car with ‘corruption’ earnings

Senior Ekurhuleni councillor Shabangu purchased a Ford SUV from an alleged R1.2-million kickback

Subscribers only

Q&A Sessions: Frank Chikane on the rainbow where colours never...

Reverend Frank Chikane has just completed six years as the chairperson of the Kagiso Trust. He speaks about corruption, his children’s views and how churches can be mobilised

ANC: ‘We’re operating under conditions of anarchy’

In its latest policy documents, the ANC is self-critical and wants ‘consequence management’, yet it’s letting its members off the hook again

More top stories

War of words at Zondo commission: ‘Grow up Mr Gordhan,...

The cross-examination of the public enterprises minister by Tom Moyane’s lawyers at the state capture inquiry went on well into overtime on Monday evening

‘Where the governments see statistics, I see the faces of...

Yvette Raphael describes herself as a ‘professional protester, sjambok feminist and hater of trash’. Government officials would likely refer to her as ‘a rebel’. She’s fought for equality her entire life, she says. And she’s scared of no one

Covid-19 stems ‘white’ gold rush

The pandemic hit abalone farmers fast and hard. Prices have dropped and backers appear to be losing their appetite for investing in the delicacy

Al-Shabab’s terror in Mozambique

Amid reports of brutal, indiscriminate slaughter, civilians bear the brunt as villages are abandoned and the number of refugees nears half a million

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…