ANC pitched in in­ter­nal bat­tle to oust mayor

Pretoria News - - NATION - BALD­WIN NDABA bald­[email protected] MAYIBONGWE MAQHINA [email protected]

THE DA and the EFF in Man­gaung Metro in the Free State are plan­ning to launch an­other vote of no con­fi­dence against mayor Olly Mlam­leli, af­ter she sur­vived an in­ter­nal bat­tle on Tues­day.

The op­po­si­tion par­ties and some ANC re­gional lead­ers in Man­gaung – the big­gest re­gion in the Free State – have blamed Mlam­leli for the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s re­cent down­grade to junk sta­tus by Moody’s rat­ing agency.

Mlam­leli was elected ex­ec­u­tive mayor af­ter the 2016 lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions, fol­low­ing her stint as Free State hu­man set­tle­ments MEC un­der then pre­mier Ace Ma­gashule.

Af­ter less than two years in of­fice in mid-2018, the EFF filed its first mo­tion of no con­fi­dence against her. In its mo­tion, the party claimed that un­der Mlam­leli’s lead­er­ship, Au­di­tor-Gen­eral Kimi Mak­wetu had given the mu­nic­i­pal­ity a qual­i­fied au­dit opinion, with se­ri­ous observatio­ns.

The party also claimed that un­der her lead­er­ship, Man­gaung Metro was “tech­ni­cally bank­rupt”.

The EFF also com­plained about poor ser­vice de­liv­ery, but it lost the mo­tion. Af­ter the ver­dict, EFF cau­cus leader Elish Se­balao blamed the out­come on the de­ci­sion of the coun­cil to deny a se­cret bal­lot, claim­ing it pre­vented some ANC coun­cil­lors from vot­ing in sup­port of their mo­tion.

Yes­ter­day, the DA ex­pressed the same views af­ter it lost its mo­tion of no con­fi­dence against the mayor on Tues­day night. A to­tal of 54 peo­ple voted against the mo­tion; 34 coun­cil­lors were in favour, while two ab­stained.

The DA and the EFF have again blamed coun­cil speaker Mx­olisi Siy­on­zana for his de­ci­sion to al­low vot­ing through a show of hands, but he ap­peared un­fazed about be­ing ac­cused of bias and act­ing on ANC in­struc­tions. Siy­on­zana, how­ever, did not want to give rea­sons for deny­ing the op­po­si­tion a se­cret bal­lot vote.

THE Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Public Ac­counts (Scopa) is con­sid­er­ing amend­ing the Public Fi­nance Man­age­ment Act (PFMA) to bring an end to de­part­ments re­quest­ing ex­ten­sions only to de­lay the sub­mis­sion of an­nual re­ports.

“We do need a process to amend Sec­tion 65.2 to tighten it. It can’t be open-ended, as is,” Scopa chair­per­son Mkhuleko Hlengwa said yes­ter­day.

“Sec­tion 65.2 does need to be tight­ened be­cause the case study of SAA and Depart­ment of Wa­ter and San­i­ta­tion are the clear­est in­di­ca­tion of a gen­uine at­tempt to ac­com­mo­date, only to open the flood gates not to com­ply, and that needs to be sorted out,” Hlengwa said.

He made the state­ment when the Depart­ment of Wa­ter and San­i­ta­tion was probed on its fail­ure to sub­mit an an­nual re­port for 2018-19.

The depart­ment had last year asked for an ex­ten­sion to sub­mit its re­port util­is­ing a pro­vi­sion in the PFMA af­ter Au­di­tor-Gen­eral Kimi Mak­wetu wanted sup­port­ing doc­u­ments on the fi­nances of Trans-Cale­don Tun­nel Author­ity (TCTA), a move that ne­ces­si­tated ad­just­ments to the re­ports and fi­nances of the depart­ment and wa­ter trad­ing en­tity.

Hlengwa said yes­ter­day that as far as they were con­cerned, fail­ure to sub­mit the an­nual re­port amounted to non-com­pli­ance.

“This poses a huge risk to over­sight and ac­count­abil­ity,” he said.

He charged that the SAA had used the same PFMA pro­vi­sion when it did not sub­mit its re­ports.

The depart­ment’s act­ing di­rec­tor-gen­eral, Mbulelo Tshangana, said they did not want to make ex­cuses but rather to ac­count prop­erly.

“It is not some­thing that sits very well with us be­cause all other de­part­ments have submitted their an­nual re­ports,” Tshangana said.

He said the de­lay in sub­mit­ting the an­nual re­port was due to sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences in the in­ter­pre­ta­tion be­tween Mak­wetu’s of­fice and TCTA on the na­ture of sup­port­ing doc­u­ments that were re­quired to sub­stan­ti­ate pay­ments made by TCTA on be­half of the gov­ern­ment to the Le­sotho High­lands De­vel­op­ment Author­ity and Le­sotho High­lands Wa­ter Com­mis­sion.

He added that there were dif­fer­ences in in­ter­pre­ta­tions that led to the lim­i­ta­tion of the cope of the au­dit and a pos­si­ble dis­claimer if the doc­u­ments were not made avail­able.

He as­sured the com­mit­tee that they would now sub­mit their depart­ment’s an­nual re­port within 30 days af­ter Mak­wetu fi­nalised in Fe­bru­ary the au­dit­ing of the fi­nances of the TCTA, which submitted its re­port to Par­lia­ment last week.

“We are de­ter­mined to make sure we meet the time­line and sub­mit within the statu­tory re­quire­ments,” he said.

Mkhuleko Hlengwa

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