KSD mayor has R71m headache

Probe report says Zozo must account for ‘unauthorised expenditure’

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King Sabata Dalindyebo mayor Dumani Zozo should be held accountable for unauthorised expenditure of about R71m which was paid out to municipal employees as part of outstanding task grade monies owed to them.
This was one of the recommendations contained in a report following a three- month investigation into claims of fraud, corruption and maladministration at the troubled municipality.
The probe was sanctioned by Eastern Cape co-operative governance and traditional affairs MEC Fikile Xasa in November.
Tabling the report in a special council meeting at the Mthatha Town Hall on Friday, Xasa said Zozo had a responsibility to ensure the municipal budget was spent wisely.
The report also recommended that the entire KSD municipal council be held accountable for sanctioning the payment of task grade monies when there was no budget in place for it.
“The mayor has a responsibility in terms of section 52 and 54 of the Municipal Finance Management Act to ensure that the municipality’s budget is spent wisely,” said Xasa while reading from the report.
He said R71m had so far been paid to municipal employees as part of task grade since the process started in June last year.
The money was taken from municipal infrastructure grants, equitable share allocation and the electricity grant.
Xasa told Zozo and council that they would have to find a way to replace those “ring-fenced” grants.
“It is illegal to take grants. You have to fix that even if it means you have to go and rob somewhere else to replace the monies taken from infrastructure grants.
“Those monies were meant to improve infrastructure.” He described the payments as irregular expenditure.
The report also recommended that municipal manager Ngamela Pakade compile a report on money spent on task grade with Xasa, saying “we are told that this money is accumulating – it’s possible that it could be over that”.
Zozo was also instructed to institute a forensic investigation to ascertain if there were any irregular payments made to each municipal worker, adding that there were unconfirmed reports that one person received around R1.9m.
The report, which was also presented to workers, also called for disciplinary action against two officials accused of sexual harassment. It further recommended the reinstatement of an employee who was fired after only three days of employment.
This was because she was told they had someone else in mind for the position.
The report has recommended that KSD purchase all the protective gear needed by employees after they had complained to Xasa about not being equipped with the tools of their trade. Zozo accepted the report on behalf of the council.
UDM councillor Mabandla Gogo thanked the MEC for prioritising KSD and instituting an investigation into its shenanigans.
DA councillor Raymond Knock said they needed to apply their minds to the report first, but also told Xasa that reports given to Zozo were sometimes brought to council for consideration after six to eight months of him receiving them.
Xasa warned council that taking the report for a legal opinion would just be a waste of municipal funds...

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