Just ‘col­le­gial ad­vice’, not in­ter­fer­ence

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - News - No­maz­ima Nkosi [email protected]­soblack­star.co.za

It is hard to imag­ine that “col­le­gial ad­vice” re­mind­ing the mu­nic­i­pal­ity of the law could be con­sid­ered in­ter­fer­ence in the Nel­son Man­dela Bay mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

This was the re­sponse from the Na­tional Trea­sury to claims by ANC coun­cil­lor Andile Lungisa that there was a “rogue unit” op­er­at­ing within the depart­ment that was in­ter­fer­ing in the af­fairs of the city.

It comes af­ter Lungisa said he would write to fi­nance minister Tito Mboweni to re­port what he felt was the un­der­min­ing of the metro af­ter Trea­sury deputy di­rec­tor-gen­eral for in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal re­la­tions Mal­i­jeng Ngqaleni cau­tioned the city on Wed­nes­day against spend­ing loan fund­ing on any­thing other than cap­i­tal projects.

The let­ter was sent to act­ing city man­ager Peter Neil­son less than 24 hours af­ter a plan was pre­sented to the coun­cil to di­vert hun­dreds of mil­lions in loan fund­ing meant for in­fra­struc­ture to­wards set­tling le­gal bills and sum­mer fes­tiv­i­ties.

The Trea­sury’s me­dia unit said Mboweni would gladly re­ceive any ev­i­dence of a rogue unit, but also noted that such a unit did not ex­ist.

The Trea­sury said it was ad­vised that the metro was con­sid­er­ing a di­ver­sion of debt fi­nanc­ing for pur­poses that were specif­i­cally not au­tho­rised in the Mu­nic­i­pal Fi­nance Man­age­ment Act, and that had not been dis­closed dur­ing the ne­go­ti­a­tions for the loan.

“In re­view­ing the ev­i­dence, in this case a coun­cil mem­o­ran­dum, the Trea­sury im­me­di­ately sought to ad­vise and cau­tion the ac­count­ing of­fi­cer of the le­gal is­sues that would need to be con­sid­ered be­fore any ac­tion was taken in this re­gard.

“The ad­vice was of­fered in the spirit of co-oper­a­tive gov­er­nance, with an of­fer to pro­vide sub­se­quent sup­port to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and coun­cil should they be un­fa­mil­iar with the reg­u­la­tory en­vi­ron­ment.

“It is hard to imag­ine why col­le­gial ad­vice of this na­ture would be con­sid­ered to be in­ter­fer­ence, or why it would be nec­es­sary to la­bel the na­tional Trea­sury or its in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal re­la­tions divi­sion as a ‘rogue’ unit, when these are clearly within its re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.”

The me­dia unit said the Trea­sury had al­ways had a close work­ing re­la­tion­ship with the metro.

“The re­cent changes to the po­lit­i­cal ad­min­is­tra­tion of the metro have led to a sit­u­a­tion where not all in the po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship have been fully ex­posed to train­ing and ori­en­ta­tion in the le­gal frame­work govern­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of va­can­cies ex­ist in se­nior mu­nic­i­pal man­age­ment po­si­tions, in­clud­ing the city man­ager and chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer.

“In cases where the na­tional Trea­sury be­comes aware of po­ten­tial con­tra­ven­tions of the law, it will al­ways take mea­sures to quickly, hon­estly and clearly of­fer guid­ance and sup­port to mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.”

Asked if he had writ­ten to the Trea­sury yet, Lungisa said he would do so on Fri­day af­ter­noon.

ROGUE CLAIMS: ANC coun­cil­lor Andile Lungisa

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