Msun­duzi’s ‘miss­ing’ R70 mil­lion as­sets shock

The Mercury - - FRONT PAGE - Thami Magubane

THE Msun­duzi Mu­nic­i­pal­ity is un­able to prop­erly ac­count for close to R70 mil­lion worth of mov­able coun­cil as­sets in­clud­ing five guns worth half a mil­lion rand.

The an­nual mov­able as­sets ver­i­fi­ca­tion process be­gan on Fe­bru­ary 1 and con­cluded on June 30 this year. The re­port was tabled be­fore exco mem­bers re­cently.

The ver­i­fi­ca­tion process in­cluded a full phys­i­cal as­set ver­i­fi­ca­tion of all mov­able as­sets at all lo­ca­tions within the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

Ac­cord­ing to the as­set re­port the mu­nic­i­pal­ity had a to­tal of 40 183 as­sets, of which 32 469 had been ver­i­fied and 7 714 could not be ver­i­fied.

The re­port said the process could not ver­ify about R68.8m worth of as­sets. Th­ese had a value of R149.3m be­fore de­pre­ci­a­tion of R80.5m.

Among the as­sets that can­not be ex­plained are five firearms val­ued at R494 000, air con­di­tion­ing equip­ment val­ued at R2.9m, 757 cab­i­nets and cup­boards worth around R500 000, and 1 602 chairs val­ued at around R500 000.

Also five fire en­gines worth R700 000, fire equip­ment worth R521 000, and 327 lawn­mow­ers worth R450 000.

Op­po­si­tion par­ties have de­manded mu­nic­i­pal of­fi­cials be held ac­count­able for the as­sets.

DA coun­cil­lor Jerome Ma­jola said: “It can­not be that as­sets worth close to R70m dis­ap­pear in one year and we get such an in­suf­fi­cient re­port. We will de­mand a com­pre­hen­sive re­port de­tail­ing where the as­sets are and whether crim­i­nal charges have been laid.”

Ma­jola said the pos­si­bil­ity of fraud and cor­rup­tion had to be con­sid­ered. “How else can you ex­plain that an as­set as big as a car can­not be ver­i­fied?”

Ma­jola said he was con­cerned about the guns. “We are told the where­abouts of five guns can­not be ver­i­fied – it would have been bet­ter if it was stated clearly that those guns were taken for bal­lis­tic tests or are ex­hibits in court.

“We are liv­ing in dan­ger­ous times in KZN where coun­cil­lors are be­ing killed, so it is un­ac­cept­able that sen­si­tive as­sets like a gun can­not be ver­i­fied.”

Ma­jola also ques­tioned the value of the guns, say­ing he had checked but could not find guns that could cost more than R100 000 each. IFP coun­cil­lor Thi­na­sonke Ntombela said the value of the miss­ing as­sets was “quite high and fright­en­ing”.

“The is­sue of the guns is es­pe­cially con­cern­ing,” he said.

Com­mu­nity Ser­vices man­ager Boniwe Zulu told exco mem­bers some of the guns could be with the SAPS for bal­lis­tic test­ing. “Th­ese guns cost this much be­cause th­ese are not 9mms,” she said.

The re­port said poor in­ter­nal con­trol with re­spect to as­set man­age­ment was the main con­tribut­ing fac­tor to the prob­lem.

The ver­i­fi­ca­tion process iden­ti­fied a num­ber of risks, in­clud­ing that some de­part­ments had been ac­quir­ing as­sets with­out com­plet­ing as­set ac­qui­si­tion forms, and ac­quir­ing as­sets from op­er­at­ing bud­gets and not safe­guard­ing as­sets al­lo­cated to them.

No pro­ce­dures were be­ing fol­lowed re­gard­ing the move­ment or dis­posal of as­sets.

Some staff mem­bers had dis­re­spected the ver­i­fi­ca­tion process by lock­ing their of­fices, although they had been told that there would be a ver­i­fi­ca­tion process tak­ing place, and elec­tronic equip­ment like lap­tops had there­fore not been made avail­able.

Staff had also moved some as­sets around dur­ing the ver­i­fi­ca­tion process with­out no­ti­fy­ing the as­set con­trol team. Fur­ni­ture and of­fice equip­ment such as chairs, com­put­ers and brush cut­ters con­sti­tuted the ma­jor­ity of miss­ing as­sets.

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