By JONATHAN WALTON
“People generally fall into one of three groups: the few who make things happen, the many who watch things happen, and the overwhelming majority who have no notion of what happens. Every person is either a creator of fact or a creature of circumstance. He either puts colour into his environment, or, like a chameleon, takes colour from his environment.”Myles Munroe
There is nothing wrong in questioning the controversial extension of the current Municipal Manager’s contract of employment or even questioning the controversial appointment of the new Chief Financial Officer. Given the poor managerial record of the Municipal Manager, the ANC’s steamrolling of the decision to extend the Municipal Manager’s stay for another 90 days at City Hall cannot be supported by any right-thinking citizen or councillor.
It can be safely argued that the decision to extend the Municipal Manager’s contract – which was endorsed by Ayanda Kota’s ‘new’ Makana Citizens Front councillors – was an ill-informed factional decision that was not based on principles of ethical, accountable and good governance. Given the abhorrent service delivery problems in Makana, the decision is definitely not in the broader public’s interest.
Municipal law provides for the extension of the Municipal Manager’s contract of employment under certain conditions. They do not apply here, and there can be no practical reason why the Municipal Manager’s post was not advertised in the appropriate time frame before the completion of his contract. If councillors do not know the conditions, it is suggested that they read the relevant municipal law. It is a shame that a serious ethical issue has been clouded by misguided political rhetoric and malicious and wrongful accusations of racism.
The evidence of the Municipal Manager’s poor managerial and performance record is in the Auditor-General Reports for 2017/18 to 2020/21. During his five-year term, the Municipal Manager was responsible for millions of rands in irregular, unauthorised, fruitless and wasteful expenditure. Irregular expenditure has continued to rise unabated to the current R323.9 million and unauthorised spending to a whopping R545.2 million. More concerning, deviations from supply chain management practices for 2020/21 were R11.7 million and contingency liabilities R38.7 million.
This equates to nearly a billion rand of unaccountable expenditure, which is potentially unaccounted for. In addition, there is no evidence that this expenditure has benefited the residents of Makana. Meanwhile, Eskom and other creditor debt continue to grow.
The Municipal Manager could not offer a reasonable and convincing explanation of the findings of the AGSA. Instead of being truthful, the Municipal Manager explained that the problems alluded to by the AGSA are all ‘legacy problems’.
The recently distributed Financial Recovery Plan (FRP) Implementation Plan document reports that “consequence management and management of discipline”, which should have always been in place as a requirement of the Municipal Systems Act and was requested as an action from the AGs new powers in June 2021, “has not yet started”.
Under the current Municipal Manager’s watch, there is no evidence that any senior manager directly accountable to the Municipal Manager was ever held responsible for gross financial misconduct and abuse of public resources; no public money has been reclaimed. The disclaimer findings by the AGSA and poor service delivery track record should have been used to decide the fate of the Municipal Manager.
Makana Municipality is in a state of dysfunctionality because this Municipal Manager relinquished his legislated responsibilities to factionalism. The DA or any other like-minded opposition party would have been correct to question and oppose the employment contract extension. The issue has nothing to do with ‘whiteness’ or ‘blackness’ or misleading claims of the existence of white supremacists in Makhanda.
Most people who voted for the MCF voted for ethical and accountable good governance. The voters wanted its democratically elected councillors to make life difficult for ANC councillors and conniving officials who have brought the municipality to its knees through insidious, corrupt, and fraudulent activities.
The removed MCF Councillors were not afforded an opportunity to implement the MCF’s anti-corruption and service delivery mandate. We submitted written motions on governance and service delivery issues. Some of the motions were tabled, and the Speaker’s office deliberately withheld others. Several officials and certain ANC Councillors welcomed our presence and constructive contributions to Council. We were not coopted and in the pockets of factionalists.
Regretfully and shamefully, it is now clear that Ayanda Kota’s councillors are not representing the people who voted in good faith for the MCF. Using racist rhetoric and hate speech to defend the indefensible is not helpful. Kota’s notion that ‘black councillors’ have been undermined by ‘white councillors’ or by ‘white supremacists’ is ridiculous and in direct conflict with the Constitution and Equality Act.
The like-minded ANC Councillors must disconnect themselves from Ayanda Kota.