Alfred Nzo district municipal bosses have commissioned a forensic investigation into irregular expenditure amounting to about R500-million.
In June this year, the Daily Dispatch published a report revealing that the district authority was identified as one of the serial irregular spenders in the country by auditor general Kimi Makwetu, with OR Tambo at the top of that list.
Alfred Nzo was among the top 10 offenders in the country together with three other Eastern Cape municipalities.
A R34-million water supply scheme tender in Matatiele was said to be among several contracts the Alfred Nzo council would have to investigate according to the AG.
The tender was reportedly not advertised while the contractor appointed did not even have a tax clearance certificate.
However, municipal bosses in Alfred Nzo have taken the first step towards addressing their shortcomings by instituting a forensic investigation into the huge irregular bill.
This was confirmed by the authority’s newly appointed municipal manager, Zamile Sikhundla. He has been acting in the position for the past two years.
“There were a lot of discrepancies on our annual audits in the past which we are trying to polish now,” he said.
“It will give us an indication of how we incurred the irregular expenditure – and if there is anyone who should be charged, then we will do that.”
“It [irregular expenditure] accumulated over the years to R500-million. The situation was exacerbated by the fact that the municipality was unable to provide some vital documentation to the AG.”
Sikhundla said they had decided to implement a series of austerity measures, as well as introducing an electronic documentation management system to ensure that vital documentation is stored electronically.
The Dispatch reported earlier this year that President Jacob Zuma had signed a proclamation for the Special Investigations Unit to investigate allegations of fraud and corruption at Alfred Nzo.
Sikhundla meanwhile revealed that there had been several probes which had resulted in the loss of some vital documents.
“People would come and ask for some documents which we had to hand over. Now we can just make copies for everyone instead of giving them originals.”
The municipality has also managed to appoint a fulltime chief financial officer and a senior manager of infrastructure while a position for corporate services senior manager has already been advertised.
Sikhundla said the council had decided not to undertake any new projects this year. Instead the focus would be on completing those that have been dragging on for years, with some having been ongoing for nearly five years.
“Some started at R10-million and are now at R25-million and still incomplete. Our aim is to make sure that we complete them first before taking any new projects.”
Council has also instituted new cost-cutting measures which include a ban on catering for meetings and on out-of-town meetings. Overtime allowances have been substituted with off days and cellphone and travel allowances have been reduced.
“The savings will be channelled towards service delivery, which is the municipality’s core business in the first place,” said Sikhundla.