Probe clears debt collection company The report adds that the ‘lack of checks and balances is astonishing and glaring’
THE SECTION 106 investigation into the Sol Plaatje Municipality did “not find any proof of impropriety with regard to the company New Integrated Credit Solutions (NICS) which sent out text messages to households to communicate the R260 electricity tariff”.
The report points out that NICS was appointed as a debt collection company and agreed to assist the municipality to disseminate the message to households since they have the contact details of residents on their database. “This service was provided at no extra cost to the municipality.”
The services of Cherry Green Media and The Print Zone were acquired by the municipality through deviations of the Supply Chain Management Policy.
According to the report, Cherry Green Media was paid R199 890 as part of the mass media campaign embarked on by the municipality to disseminate information relating to the R260 electricity tariff, whereas The Print Zone was paid R241 500.
It points out further that while the reason for the deviations was stated as exceptional cases, no explanation was provided as what constituted exception.
“The following attracted the concern of the team upon closer scrutiny:
* the procurement deviation forms for The Print Zone as well as Cherry Green Media were signed by the CFO under the heading ‘Recommended by: Executive Director’.
* in her own handwriting she then wrote the following: ‘Recommended for consideration and approval’.
* under the heading ‘Recommend to Municipal Manager’ she correctly signed where the CFO should sign and wrote ‘recommended’.
“The above-mentioned means that the CFO signed where the executive director (line manager) should have signed – recommending to herself as CFO – and then signed as CFO recommending to the MM.”
Fingers were also pointed at the municipal manager stating that he should have taken control of the debacle around the R260 electricity levy.
“However, he allowed the CFO to take control of the matter which amounts to dereliction of duty on his part.”
The report adds that the “lack of checks and balances is astonishing and glaring”.
It also refers to the “absence of input by the communications manager”, which it describes as “concerning”, adding that it raises concern of “lack of segregation of duties”.
“Furthermore, the CFO instructed municipal officials to print 60 000 flyers notwithstanding the fact that an external service provider was procured to perform the function. The distribution of these flyers was done by EPWP workers.
“The team concluded that the municipality had no communication strategy to communicate with the residents and that the communication manager of the institution was left out in the cold as the CFO became the face and voice of the municipality.”
The task team also referred to the lack of communication regarding the electricity tariff and levy by the municipality to residents. “It was always on the back foot and receiving end of the media campaign lodged by the residents.”
It added that the councillors were also not au fait with the rationale for the R260 levy. “Many councillors heard about the R260 levy through the media … the municipality should have done an extra effort to get its councillors on board.
“Even the lacklustre media campaign lodged by the municipality did not yield any fruits mostly because the CFO was the face and voice of the media campaign and the MM was nowhere to be seen as accounting officer and head of administration.”