The North West Provincial Legislature’s Portfolio Committee on Local Government and Human Settlements led by Hon. Motlalepula Rosho has commended the Provincial Intervention team led by the Administrator, Mr. Michael Mokgwamme which was brought during the invoking of Section 139 (1)(b) of the Constitution in Ventersdorp Local Municipality.
This came after the Committee held an oversight meeting at Ventersdorp Municipal Chamber to check progress made in terms since the invoking of Section 139(1)(b) by the Provincial Government as well as to inspect the level of Back to Basic support plan which includes good governance, basic service delivery, municipal financial viability; administration and implementation of municipal infrastructure grants projects and public participation.
The oversight meeting forms part of the O re bone, re go bone – Taking Parliament to the People campaign held throughout Dr. Kenneth Kaunda District Municipality under the theme “The people shall govern through strengthening public participation, promoting accountability and transparency in government”.
The “O re bone re go bone” which literally means “You see us and we see you”, is a programme aimed at taking legislature to the people to strengthen oversight and public participation and to promote accountability and transparency in government.
During the campaign, Members of the Legislature will also interact with Mayors, members of the Municipal Public Accounts Committees, ward committees, traditional authorities, farmers and their respective organisations, organised structures and members of the public on issues affecting them.
According to the Administrator, Mr. Michael Mokgwamme, there is a significant improvement on the functionality of the municipality which includes a functional council and improved work ethic amongst municipal employees since the intervention in 2015.
“Some of the key achievements include the 2015/16 budget being tabled and approved in May 2015; equitable share which was previously held by National treasury being transferred to municipality on time; Department of Water and Sanitation provided water tankers to previously disadvantaged communities and appointment of consultants to ensure that conditional grants are spent during the current financial year which ends in June 2016.
“The Department of Local Government and Human Settlements is current conducting a forensic investigation on irregular appointments of contracts with service providers. We have also implemented a plan to pay ESKOM and Auditor-General on time as well as reduce water debts from the Department of Water and Sanitation,” said Mr. Mokgwamme.
He said some of the challenges in the municipality include debt by provincial and national departments which impacts on revenue sources; lack of funds to repair part of the municipal building which was burnt during service delivery protests because it was not insured; outstanding Public Protector reports not being received in time and inadequate machinery and equipment to clean the town.
Committee Chairperson, Hon. Motlalepula Rosho said although the Committee commends the provincial intervention team on bringing stability within the municipality, the relationship between the Councillors, administration team and management seems to be at a lower level.
“Since the last engagement with the National Council of Provinces in the municipality, there seems to be a poor relationship between pillars of governance and communities. Public participation is also worrisome as community members are often not properly consulted on current developments since the arrival of the intervention team.
“Both the district municipality and the Department of Local Government and Human Settlement should conduct regular oversight in the municipality to ensure that service delivery is drastically improved. It is worrying that only 30% of the municipal infrastructure grants was spend when we are left with only 4 months before end of the current financial year of 2015/16,” said Hon. Rosho.
The Committee also expressed disattisfication on the status of the 3km Welgevonden internal road project. According to the research conducted by the Legislature, the project which had to be implemented by the local municipality had major challenges during the implementation phase. The initial R6 million budget was exhausted in 2013 and the district municipality had to implement the second phase of the project in September 2015 at an additional budget of R5,4 million.
“We are worried that the project does not meet certain requirements as we discovered that the width of the road surface is between 4,8 meters and 5 meters instead of the prescribed 6 meter wide surface and there is no provision for pedestrians including the local school and clinic. There are also no speed humps for the school and clinic along the road. There is no value for money as the surface is not even and there is no monitoring by the district municipality,” said Hon. Rosho.
The Committee will engage with the Legislature’ Standing Committee on Provincial Public Accounts on accountability of the contract as it exceeded the actual budget.
For more information contact Kabo Letlhogela on 079 879 1448.