/ 18 February 2024

DA slams call for probe into uMngeni municipality

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Chris Pappas, mayor of uMngeni municipality, during a picket to dissolve the ANC-EFF run eThekwini Municipality. (Photo by Darren Stewart/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in KwaZulu-Natal has slammed Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube and Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) MEC Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi for remarks made at the provincial government lekgotla, where calls were made for a probe into the finances of the DA-led uMngeni Municipality.

The DA KZN spokesperson on Cogta, Martin Meyer, said the focus on uMngeni Municipality’s finances exposed “the African National Congress’s (ANC) double-standards when it comes to oversight and accountability”.

The DA said it was unsurprised by the provincial government’s response to the recent auditor-general’s (AG) report and said that it symbolised the continued focus on “weaponising Cogta instead of creating the service delivery arm so desperately needed”.

Meyer said the party was willing and able to explain the AG’s findings to Sithole-Moloi.

“The irony is also not lost on the DA as the MEC and her cabinet members pay little attention to the collapsing ANC-run eThekwini Metro with its R2,4 billion irregular expenditure bill or Msunduzi’s R70 million wasteful expenditure bill or uMgungundlovu’s R256 million in unauthorised expenditure.”

The premier said the provincial Treasury and Cogta have been instructed to look into uMngeni Municipality following “concerns” about its finances.

At last month’s uMngeni full council meeting, the AG report revealed that the municipality had a large amount of unauthorised expenditure, where just over R100 million was incurred with R85,37 million relating to non-cash items in the current 2022/2023 financial year.

uMngeni also had a deficit of R83,65 million.

Speaking at the opening of the KwaZulu-Natal Cabinet Lekgotla on Friday, Dube-Ncube said the Executive Council expressed serious concerns about the financial situation of uMngeni Municipality at its recent sitting.

“Despite the municipality positioning itself as the paragon of excellence, the report by the AG paints a gloomy picture of how the executive council there has managed the [municipality] and failed to implement prudent financial management and adhere to the principles of the Municipal Financial Management Act, Municipality Systems Act and other related legislations,” said Dube-Ncube.

Dube-Ncube said the AG’s finding were “not just an administrative misdemeanour, but it exhibits a complete collapse of the systems and it is a huge risk for a small municipality like that”.

She said the council then resolved that Treasury MEC Peggy Nkonyeni and Sithole-Moloi must urgently intervene to understand the magnitude of the municipality’s challenge and act accordingly.

“As we kicked off this provincial executive council Lekgotla, top on the agenda was to reflect on the 2023/24 financial position of the province. We reflected on the current financial position of the province and reflected on the medium-term expenditure framework budget cuts for the province.

“The executive council has expressed concern about the financial health of some municipalities in the province.

“We have had to intervene in some municipalities through various instruments of legislation and the Constitution,” Dube-Ncube said.

This article first appeared in The Witness.