Mafube municipal manager sent on forced leave

Mafube Local Municipality executive mayor Jabulani Sigasa has vowed to crack down on incompetence, warning municipal officials and other workers who fail to do their jobs risk losing them.

Sigasa – whose council has sent municipal manager Isaac Radebe on forced leave as a result of what the mayor described as the senior executive’s “shortcomings” – said his municipality was determined to take action against non-performers rather than let them stay on the job, holding back service delivery, all at the expense of residents.

The mayor of the about 58 000-people municipality said this during his address to the Free State Public Accounts and Finance Committee last Wednesday which sat to consider the municipal audited financial statements of the Auditor General of South Africa (AGSA) for the financial year ended June 30 2014.

Mafube received a disclaimer audit opinion from the office of the auditor general for the 2013/14 financial year.

This becomes the fifth consecutive year that the municipality received a disclaimer from the office of the auditor general.

A disclaimer is issued when the financial statements of the audited entity are so materially defective or inadequate that the auditor is unable to and refuses to express an opinion on the statements.

The audit report said management did not adequately respond to AGSA’s message as they did not effectively discharge their oversight responsibilities to ensure an improvement in the audit outcome.

This resulted in the municipal manager, Radebe, being sent on special leave on December 15 last year as council felt that he had failed to deliver in his oversight role.

“The absence of the municipal manager from this meeting is as a consequence of his shortcomings,” Sigasa told the committee.

“He is currently on special leave following a decision by council. We do have consequence management in place,” he added.

Sigasa was accompanied to the meeting by chief financial officer Andrew Hlubi who is also acting as municipal manager.

A member of the municipality’s internal audit team also attended the meeting.

According to the AGSA report, the leadership did not always take timely and adequate action to address weaknesses in the finance and supply chain management directorate due to lack of monitoring and supervision which resulted in non-compliance with applicable legislation and gave rise to irregular expenditure.

“Leadership did not continuously implement preventive measures to address weaknesses in the control environment to promote ethical values and good governance that protects and enhances the interests of the municipality.

“Consequence management was not effective as the council did not investigate instances of unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure to determine whether any person was liable for the expenditure as the council neglected to appoint a committee to investigate the expenditure,” read part of the report.

It said proper record keeping was not implemented in a timely manner to ensure that complete, relevant and accurate information is accessible and available to support financial and performance reporting, as management did not monitor to determine whether the controls were implemented effectively.

“The municipality did not include all unauthorised expenditure and did not adhere to the disclosure requirements . . . the municipality incurred expenditure in excess of the approved budget which was not disclosed as unauthorised expenditure, resulting in unauthorised expenditure being understated by (R168.7-million),” said the auditor general’s report.

In the previous year the figure of unauthorised expenditure stood at over R186.6-million.

The auditor general was not able to conclusively determine the irregular as well as fruitless and wasteful expenditure because the municipality did not provide adequate information.

The report said the municipality made payments in contravention of the supply chain management regulations which were not included in the irregular expenditure resulting in it being understated by about R13.3-million.

Fruitless and wasteful expenditure was understated by R17.7-million.

The chairperson of the public accounts committee, Rooyen van Vuuren, told the mayor that while there were some improvements, there was still a lot of work to be done in the municipality as it had not improved on its audit outcome.

“You are still in the red but I am much more comfortable with your municipality this time,” said Van Vuuren in his closing remarks.

“You have a very small municipality and it must be easy to bring it out of the red,” added the chairperson.

The mayor said his municipality would come down hard on non-performers regardless of their positions because the municipality was failing to run efficiently and deliver basic services on time.

He said: “The municipal manager is not being targeted. He is the accounting officer of the municipality. Others who are not performing well will also be called to account.

“We cannot allow a situation whereby recommendations aimed at improving our operations are not followed. There will be consequences.”