– report by Tim Bull

Amongst the items tabled were:

  1. The Administrator’s Exit Report – yes Makana is coming out of Administration.
  2. Report of Forensic Audit on payroll – non-existent employees, unwarranted overtime etc.
  3. PICC visit – request for ‘Bridging Finance.’
  4. The 6% wage increase to be approved
  5. Write-down of Inventory Stocks due to lack of stock-taking in previous years
  6. Kabuso report update
  7. Employee Contracts

Before you fume too much – yes, there are alarming and unhappy stories here, but the reason they are now being presented before Council is that there is a new integrity in Senior Makana Management, and work being done to reduce the chaos.

The Mayor made a wide-ranging opening statement, briefly outlining the reason for Makana LM being placed under Administration. She drew attention to work with Sarah Baartman Development Agency to build a ‘Biomass to Energy’ facility so our waste is used to produce electricity, creating 100 jobs, and the closure of the landfill site (it would reduce pressure on the landfill site, but not entirely replace it as non-flammables such as building materials would still require a dump site). She also stated a priority to support rural development and assist rural people. Finally she drew attention to recent vandalism and theft of infrastructure that appeared targeted to cause water outages at the time of National Arts Festival. The upgrade of Mayfield Water Treatment Works needs to be completed so that Phase 2 of Mayfield RDP Housing can be built.

1. Administrator’s Final and exit Report

A delegation from COGTA visited Makana on 28th June when the Administrator, Mr Gomomo’s Final and Exit Reports were presented to the Mayoral committee and Directors. COGTA have approved the termination of S139 (b) and substitution of s154 support, pending adoption of a formal resolution which will mean that Makana is no longer under administration.

Full Council was evidently taken by surprise when the Municipal Workers’ Union, SAMWU, statement was read out by the Speaker demanding that s139 (b) should not be terminated until a substantive MM and Director of Corporate Services have been appointed. Councillors objected to this intrusion, stating that the missive should have been addressed to the MEC.

The Reports were accepted (with just a couple of typos being identified). This is a pity as the Reports leave a great deal to be desired.

The Administrator’s final and Exit Reports cover a very wide range of issues. The most striking aspect of the report is that it so clearly demonstrates that Mr Gomomo has relied on official statements and failed to engage with the public or civic organisations to any substantial degree. How else could he believe his own words when he states; “The Public Participation of the municipality is functional and effective… Ward Committee members and Ward Councillors are continuously holding community general meetings to…provide feedback reports to communities on Council decisions.” Really? Did we miss something? The reason he has stated this is because it is important that Back to Basics is implemented – the first line of Back to Basics states: ‘Putting people first – let’s listen and communicate.’

The fact that you probably didn’t know that the Administrator’s Exit Report was published last month indicates either a fundamental misunderstanding of Back to Basics or a careless disregard. It is a poorly written report which makes it tedious to read, and full of rather meaningless platitudes. For example under Community and Social Services he states:  “The Directorate is doing all it can to ensure delivery of services to communities.”  For this Directorate and others the reasons for under-performance are repeatedly given as ‘aging infrastructure and lack of financial resources.’  On the whole, the progress cited in the report is reliant on additional funding secured, for example all the funding for Bulk Water and Reticulation upgrades – no mention of the resilience of Makana to continue servicing all the new infrastructure and the skills required to do so.

It is alarming to see all the areas covered in the report that are framed as future ‘Makana must do’ items. After nearly two years of Administration the list of outstanding actions makes one wonder why they haven’t been addressed already – for instance Leave Management System so that Leave can be Controlled – surely this should have been addressed under our first Administrator in 2014?

2. Report of Forensic Audit on payroll

The first recommendation of the report (out of 20) states: ‘The salaries of all employees who did not attend the employee verification should be stopped with immediate effect, as their existence cannot be confirmed. It must be noted that adequate notification of the employee verification was provided to employees.’  The better (still not good) news is that out of a total of 17 suspected ‘ghost workers’ the real number has been whittled down to just 2. Now that Makana is getting to grips with what staff it has, and recently managed to produce an organisational organogram, councillors are expressing concern that it is ratepayers money that has been wasted.

Regarding overtime the report finds that: The Municipality’s overtime appears excessive; Fictitious time may have been charged as overtime, since in most instances the Managers have not signed the attendance registers. It is recommended that; overtime will only be paid when pre-approved by the Director.

It is evident from other matters raised that there were contracts and casual workers making fraudulent claims, a past member of HR Department who have not followed proper recruitment procedures, unwarranted acting allowances paid and staff not having tax deducted at source (legal requirement). These things are all being highlighted, but not clear that managers in charge of these failings are being sanctioned.

3. PICC (Provincial infrastructure Coordinating Committee) visit on 12 July 2016

Makana have submitted a request for bridging funding (low or interest-free loan) to assist in paying off the Eskom debt (around R56 million). The rationale is that the municipality is resolving its revenue collection and returning to a better financial position, but is hamstrung by having to service this enormous debt.

4. The 6% wage increase to be approved

In reality this is just a rubber-stamp item as the wage negotiations are centralised and the municipality has no ability to vary the amount of this agreement. Needless to say, it was approved.

5. Write-down of Inventory Stocks due to lack of previous stock-taking

This item produced a lot of comments as it became apparent that some of the figures are incorrect. The aim of this report was to write off R3,687,545 of stock that cannot be accounted for ranging from paper clips to fuel, electrical cable, plumbing fitments and much more.

Eventually it was agreed that this item would have to be deferred until the next Council meeting for erroneous entries to be corrected.

6. Kabuso report update

The Council appointed a committee formed of Councillors not implicated by the Kabuso Report to bring the report to its conclusion. Unfortunately the Councillor who was the Chairperson died, so his deputy gave the update. The current situation can be summarised as both former Councillor Madinda-Isaac and Peter deny intentional wrong-doing. Brief statements of both Councillors are presented in the Agenda in response to the findings that Cllr Madinda-Isaac signed a deed of settlement in sum of R3 million without authority and that both Councillors gave support for unwarranted payments totalling R40,900 to Ms Santi. The committee now wishes to seek legal opinion about further action to be taken in respect of Breach of Code of Conduct. The Councillors have resigned and/or no longer work for the municipality.

Regarding Santi who is alleged to have been given unauthorised pay, she is repaying her unauthorised payments on a monthly basis.

7. Employee Contracts

The Agenda contained a full copy of a generic employment contract. Within the document it states that all employees must have a contract in place from day one of their employment at Makana. If this has not been the case it goes a long way to explaining some of the difficulties Makana has been experiencing with employee management, accountability and performance issues.