By LUNGILE MXUBE, Makana Citizens Front (MCF) interim convenor and proportional representation councillor
The five proportional representation councillors of the Makana Citizens Front (MCF) have brought a breath of fresh air into the corridors of the Makana Municipality.
When the recent Auditor General’s Report was tabled in the Special Council Meeting of 11 March there was a paradigm shift in how Council has approached this critical report.
In the past, the ANC simply adopted the report without any critical analysis, robust engagement or demanding accountability from the Accounting Officer.
On Friday, the MCF led a charge. We expressed disgust and shame about the depressing picture painted by the Auditor General over the bad financial governance of Makana.
The MCF noted that there was nothing good in the report from page one to the end. MCF councillors argued that the report would only serve one objective – damaging the investor confidence and destroying public confidence in the municipality.
We further said that the report is not about ‘politics’ but purely administrative issues – the administration’s management by senior officials headed by the Municipal Manager with whom the buck stops.
The report is unequivocal, and the MCF argued that there is no need for an endless diagnosis, analysis and lamentation because the Auditor General has already done a thorough job and has presented the root cause of a problem.
What is in front of us is an administrative problem based on incompetence, gross negligence, poor financial controls, consequence management and supervision, and reckless spending of taxpayers’ money without any monetary recovery in line with the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA).
The report is damning and warrants that the Council should discuss it in detail and take tough action.
The Auditor-General identified serious policy gaps, limitations, risks and further lamented that unless the municipality takes action – including consequence management – it will continue with this downward spiral of disclaimers.
The MCF notes specifically paragraph 85 of the report: “The lack of full and proper records is likely to result in substantial harm to the municipality as it contributed to the material uncertainty regarding its ability to continue operations. This, in turn, is likely to harm the municipality’s ability to discharge its service delivery mandate.”
The MCF proposed that discussion of the report is deferred to the next Council Meeting and that the Accounting Officer must respond comprehensively and submit a report together with a remedial plan. Council accepted this proposal.
Philip Machanick, MCF PR councillor and MCF member of the Finance, Administration and Monitoring (FAME) Portfolio Committee, pointed out to Council that the MFMA, particularly Section 172 and 173, gives the council power and indeed the obligation to institute disciplinary action against an Accounting Officer for financial misconduct. Machanick said: “The MM’s report at the next Council is just the beginning – Makana Council has shifted from rubber stamping to tough talk. But talk is cheap – we need action.”
The next Council Meeting will be a game-changer and an acid test for the MCF to push hard its cardinal pillars, namely, (i) dissolving corruption, (ii) restoring good governance, (iii) promoting clean administration and ethical municipal leadership, (iv) restoring public confidence, (v) restoring the rule of law and (vi) fast-tracking effective service delivery.
We dare not fail the citizens of Makana.