I will turn Greater Letaba around within three years – newly ap­pointed Mu­nic­i­pal Man­ager

African Times - - News - MASHUDU SADIKE

Newly ap­pointed Greater Letaba Mu­nic­i­pal Man­ager, Khathut­sh­elo Sirovha has promised to turn around the Lim­popo mu­nic­i­pal­ity, im­prove ser­vice de­liv­ery and re­ceive un­qual­i­fied au­dit re­port within three years.

He says if the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s fi­nan­cial man­age­ment does not im­prove un­der his watch, he and his Chief Fi­nan­cial Of­fi­cer (CFO) Florence Mankgabe will re­sign and make way for other of­fi­cials be­cause they would have failed the peo­ple of Letaba.

Greater Letaba has been most re­cently marred by a R1 mil­lion scan­dal, ex­posed by African Times, in­volv­ing the ir­reg­u­lar pay­ment of a com­pany linked to for­mer Mopani ANC Youth League leader (ANCYL) re­gional sec­re­tary Thu­lani Twala for ser­vices not ren­dered, amongst oth­ers.

Speak­ing to African Times from his new of­fices in Mod­jad­jisKloof this week, Sirovha - who has re­cently grad­u­ated with a PHD in Pub­lic Ad­min­is­tra­tion and signed a five year con­tract with the mu­nic­i­pal­ity - pledged to im­prove ser­vice de­liv­ery in the ru­ral mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

“I have said in the pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion pro­cesses that if we still have an un­qual­i­fied au­dit opin­ion in three years I will re­sign. I have also put the CFO’s fu­ture in this mu­nic­i­pal­ity on the line by ask­ing her to prom­ise in the pres­ence of coun­cil that she would re­sign with me if there is no im­prove­ment in the mu­nic­i­pal’s au­dit and she agreed,” he said.

Greater Letaba is among the poor­est mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in the coun­try. Ac­cord­ing to Statis­tics South Africa, only 36% of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s res­i­dents have for­mal jobs while 21% sur­vive on so­cial grants. The re­tail trade and whole­sale sec­tors are its main eco­nomic driv­ers. The mu­nic­i­pal­ity contributed 11.9% to­wards the econ­omy of Mopani Dis­trict Mu­nic­i­pal­ity, which in turn contributed 18.2% to­wards the Lim­popo Pro­vin­cial econ­omy in 2016.

The con­fi­dent Sirovha said that he had also told the mayor that there would be no need for him to see out his five year con­tract if he does not meet his tar­gets in three years as there would be noth­ing he could do in the last two years that he failed to achieve in the first three.

He says that he ad­vised the mayor to fire all the di­rec­tors that would have been work­ing with him be­cause they would have also failed the mu­nic­i­pal­ity to reach its goals.

Mankgane and Head of Cor­po­rate af­fairs Bertha Let­soalo were im­pli­cated in the R1 mil­lion ir­reg­u­lar pay­ment that rocked the mu­nic­i­pal­ity a few weeks ago. They have de­nied all wrong-do­ing.

Mayor Peter Mat­lou, who in­structed for­mer mu­nic­i­pal man­ager Glo­ria Mashaba to lay crim­i­nal charges with the Hawks, says he will act against the cul­prits once his in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion has been fi­nalised.

But Sirovha, who was head­hunted by the Mat­lou, be­lieves that he will get to the bot­tom of the is­sue.

“We know what hap­pened and this mat­ter is now my own be­cause I have been here for two months now and have to take the re­spon­si­bil­ity. There was a ser­vice level agree­ment signed be­tween a com­pany that was to ren­der ser­vices to us and R1 mil­lion was paid to that com­pany with money we got from the Pro­vin­cial Trea­sury,” Sirovha said.

As part of in­ves­ti­gat­ing the mat­ter, Sirovha said that in the last two months that he has been at the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, he has made sure that The Mu­nic­i­pal Pub­lic Ac­count Com­mit­tee’s (MPAC) chair­per­son was ap­pointed full time.

This was nec­es­sary to make sure the can­di­date would be part of meet­ings to re­solve unau­tho­rised and ir­reg­u­lar ex­pen­di­ture, which he has iden­ti­fied as one of the big­gest prob­lems in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

“This way I’m able to meet the MPAC [Mu­nic­i­pal Pub­lic Ac­counts Com­mit­tee] chair­per­son any­time there is trou­ble and we en­sure con­ti­nu­ity. For ex­am­ple, we have met three times al­ready with the chair­per­son. We are com­ing up with so­lu­tions to a lot of fi­nan­cial mis­con­duct that has been hap­pen­ing in this mu­nic­i­pal­ity,” he said.

And the MPAC seems to have hit the ground run­ning. In a let­ter seen by African Times, MPAC in­vited Sirovha and his man­age­ment to ac­count for mis­man­age­ment of funds.

“MPAC in­vites the Man­age­ment team to a con­tact ses­sion to dis­cuss unau­tho­rised, Ir­reg­u­lar, Fruit­less and waste­ful ex­pen­di­ture as iden­ti­fied by AGSA mainly on the 25 crit­i­cal trans­ac­tions in the au­dit re­port for 2016/17,” read the let­ter in part.

“Man­age­ment is ex­pected to give a pre­sen­ta­tion of each of the 25 crit­i­cal trans­ac­tions in the au­dit re­port on note. The pre­sen­ta­tion should flag from con­cep­tion of the trans­ac­tion to award­ing of the trans­ac­tion. Man­age­ment is fur­ther ad­vised to bring along a full port­fo­lio of ev­i­dence per trans­ac­tion.”

The let­ter sum­mons Sirovha and his team to ac­count to coun­cil and the com­mit­tee in a form of a re­port ex­plain­ing each trans­ac­tion that hap­pened in the last two years. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion com­mences to­day.

Sirovha said that if MPAC was not happy af­ter the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, they would sum­mon the peo­ple in­volved with the trans­ac­tions to bring back the money to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, as they would have been iden­ti­fied by the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“This brings con­fi­dence and sets a con­vic­tion to the com­mu­nity that we are not just any talk shop and that we should strive to get the im­prove­ment in the Au­di­tor Gen­eral’s re­port.”

Asked how he plans to im­prove the qual­i­fied au­dit re­port, Sirovha said that he was go­ing to make sure that his di­rec­tors per­form.

“I have a sys­tem now al­ready where every sec­ond week I sit with di­rec­tors to mon­i­tor the per­for­mance and fi­nances of each de­part­ment, so that I am kept at par with the go­ings on in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity,” he said.

Pic­ture: Le­bo­gang Mak­wela / Visu­alBuz­zSA

Newly ap­pointed Greater Letaba Mu­nic­i­pal Man­ager, Khathut­sh­elo Sirovha has promised to turn around the Lim­popo mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

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