Bennett ‘grills’ Mbabane municipality over financials
OUTSPOKEN Mbabane businessman Walter Bennett yesterday ‘ripped to shreds’ the Municipal Council of Mbabane 2016/2017 annual report during the annual general meeting (AGM) which was held at Emafini Conference Centre.
Bennett allowed Mayor Thulani Mkhontfo and Finance Director Nhlanhla Vilakati to finish their presentations before he ‘tore apart’ the annual report almost page by page.
He first expressed his displeasure at the non-availability of the financial statement before the AGM.
“Why is it that the financial statement has been kept a secret before the AGM, several times, I have sent for the financial statement but have been sent from pillar to post from the CEO’s office and that of the finance director. The Council only notified us about the AGM only on the Swazi Observer last Sunday. It was not on the other newspaper, and I don’t think there was a notice on the radio. Why did the Council inform us so late, it seems like the Council does not want to avail information for public scrutiny,” he said.
He complained that the annual report was only availed on the day of the meeting, which gives them less time to scrutinise the financial statement to enable them to seek clarity.
He advised the Council to refrain from not availing the annual reports, stating that it was a public document. “Trying to get the financial statement from the Council is like trying to find the chickens’ teeth.
The Council is giving us details on how many dogs were put down and how many cattle were impounded instead of giving us the answers to the real issues,” he said.
Bennett complained that the information that was found on the Council’s website was inadequate.
Bennett added that the Mbabane Mall’s evaluation was not presented on the annual report yet it was the Council’s investment.
He said the council could have given information of how much dividends were being cashed-in. “Directors and councillors’ salaries have been mentioned, why are the dividends a secret,” he said.
The businessman said he was worried about the accountability of funds at the Council.
He cited an incidence where he alleged that government promised the municipality a E16 million grant, but said it got a E18 million cheque and submitted to government a E16 million receipt, to which he said there was an unaccounted for E2 million by the council.
He lamented on the increasing rates on vacant plots, saying that this might result in the owners of the plots not being able to eventually pay the rates.
TAKING NOTES: Municipal Council of Mbabane CEO Gideon Mhlongo listening to questions.
ACCOUNTABILITY: Tito Simelane, Director of Urban Government in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, making his remarks.
SLAMS: Mbabane businessman Walter Bennett posing questions.
MY POINT: Finance Director at Mbabane Municipal Council Nhlanhla Vilakati delivering his presentation.