Ben­nett ‘grills’ Mba­bane mu­nic­i­pal­ity over fi­nan­cials

Swazi Observer - - NATIONAL NEWS - Sto­ries by Gugu Sime­lane

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.

(Pics: Zwelethu Dlamini)

SLAMS: Mba­bane busi­ness­man Wal­ter Ben­nett pos­ing ques­tions.

MY POINT: Fi­nance Di­rec­tor at Mba­bane Mu­nic­i­pal Coun­cil Nh­lanhla Vi­lakati de­liv­er­ing his pre­sen­ta­tion.

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