ANC pitched in internal battle to oust mayor
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.