Response to Allegation of Propaganda Following the City Press Newspaper Article on Construction of Sandbank Road and Bridges
The Executive Mayor of Mkhondo Local Municipality wants to put things into perspective about the misleading information published by City Press on 8 May 2016. The Municipality rejects in the strongest terms the allegations by Sizwe Sama Yende, an author of the article referred to here. The article, as is clearly stated in the newspaper edition of 8 May 2016, is based on the unclarified facts. We welcome the comments of the public regarding the financial performances of the municipality. However, detailed understanding of the financial and technical accounting issues, is of vital importance.
The misinterpretation of the scope of work outlined in the tender document of the construction of the Sandbank road and bridges undermines the integrity of the municipality. Sizwe Sama Yende sent a set of questions to the municipality seeking clarity on certain matters. Responses were generated and sent back to him to consider. To the municipality’s dismay, he wrote information that the municipality views as inciting public violence and seems to destabilise the operations of the municipality. Most of the documents he requested were furnished to him without hesitation and with the confidence that he would consider them. However, it was learnt too little information was considered when the article was published. Instead, he sent a second set of “follow-up questions” that raised much to be desired.
His enquiry included, among others, the following questions:
1.1 Please explain in detail why the municipality decided to construct this 3 km road? Who is it going to benifit since there are hardly 10 households at Sandbank?
1.2 Is this road not running through p r ivately-owned land?
1.3 Is this road part of the Integrated Development Plan of the municipality? If so, please provide proof.
1.4 Was this road approved by the full council? If so, please provide proof – a council resolution.
1.5 Our information is that the municipality has paid R42 million to Bokosi Projects / Future JV even though the company pitched tents for one week and left before doing anything? 1.6 Why is a 3 km road worth R84 million?Was the municipality not grossly overcharged?
1.7 Please provide proof of the advertisement of this tender, decisions of Bid Evaluation and Bid Adjudication Committees.
1.8 You told management about three weeks ago that the service provider has stalled on the project because she/he ordered materials from China to continue with the project. Please explain this statement in detail because China has been exporting clothes and importing a lot of raw materials in Africa and elsewhere.
1.9 Please provide us with the qualification for the municipality’s director: technical services.
2. Smart Meter Tender
2.1 Did the full council take a resolution approving the installation of smart meters? If so, please provide proof – a council resolution.
2.2 How much is this tender costing the municipality?
2.3 Was the community consulted about the installation of smart meters? If so, please provide proof?
2.4 What is the duration of this contract and how many households is it targetting?
3. Shopping Mall
3.1 Please explain in detail how the municipality disposed of the land where the mall is being constructed?
3.2 Can you confirm or deny that the developer was given the land free of charge?
4. Eskom Debt
4.1 How much is the municipality’s debt to Eskom if it has been reduced from the original amount of R22 million? 5. Auditor-General report
5.1 The latest auditor-general’s report on Mkhondo points to a number of infractions regarding supply chain processes, understatement and overstatement of financial statements. Tenders are evaluated and adjudicated by committees not reaching a quorum forcing the municipality to incur irregular expenditure running close to R100 million. Some tenders are awarded to individuals working for other state departments.
5.1.1 Do you agree that these violations of SCM policies and procedures suggest corruption?
5.1.2 Have you taken any measures, for example, disciplinary action against any official regarding these violations? If so, provide proof?
5.1.3 Do you not think that as accounting officer you are liable for all the violations and have you considered resigning following a series of disclaimers the municipality has been receiving? Notwithstanding the above, in the interest of the public, the Municipalty can make available the Technical Report for the CONSTRUCTION OF APPROXIMATELY 3 km OF SANDBANK VILLAGE ROADS INCLUDING
6 No. CAST INSITU BOX CULVERTS, 2 No. PRECAST PORTAL CULVERTS AND 1 No. SINGLE CARRIAGEWAY BRIDGE for scrutiny.
As the municipality, we established all the necessary structures to ensure that the services rendered by the municipality are in compliance with all the applicble legislation. We have confidence and trust in our Municipal Public Accounts Committee that will also be working hard to determine the root course of the negative report described by the author of the article in the City Press.
The municipality has improved its financial and technical performances. Strict measures to ensure adherence to monthly financial and technical reporting are taken into account and Council is doing its best to exercise its oversight functions. Members of the public and other stakeholders are encouraged to peruse the Municipality’s Annual Report for the 2014/2015 finacial year in order to get more insight. We must also reaffirm that the Municipality has a responsibility to keep citizens informed about its activities.
The right to this information is guaranteed in the Constitution. Needless to say, the Municipality began to find its feet after having moved from a Disclaimer in 2013/14 financial year to a Qualified Audit Opinion in 2014/15 financial year. Pursuant to the above, the municipality wants to question the experience and knowledge of the author of the article in the City Press for he mentioned in his article that the “administrative problems in the municipality resulted in adverse audit findings by the Auditor-General every year”.
This statment is absolutely incorrect given the fact that the municipality improved its performance, moving from a Disclaimer in 2013/14 financial year to a Qualified Audit Opinion in 2014/15 financial year. He even goes further to state that projects such as Smart Meters and the Sandbank Village Road construction are not in the municipality’s IDP. The municipality wants to reiterate that these projects are in the IDP and proof was also forwarded to Sizwe Sama Yende, but he chose to mention something contrary.
It is not surprising that, in the context of the build-up to an election period, some inviduals would be particularly sensitive to the achievements of the Mkhondo Local Municipality. But, such individuals would be taken seriously if it earnestly engaged the real content, rather than make spiteful statements against the municipality. Let the community we serve be the judge. It is they after all who are at the heart of this municipality’s attempts to provide a better life for all.