Modimolle-Mookgophong municipality to return R15 million to Treasury after failing to implement projects

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The Modimolle-Mookgophong Local Municipality in Limpopo will return a conditional grant amounting to R15 million to National Treasury after failing to implement projects.

The grant was allocated for electrification, water and Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) projects for the 2019-2020 financial year.  The municipality is governed by a coalition of the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

Mayor Marlene Van Staden says implementation of the projects was delayed due to community protests and the national lockdown.

She says the municipality is confident that national treasury will consider its explanation.

“The municipality didn’t fail to spend the conditional grant we had lockdown and COVID and it delayed the spending of the conditional grant. So, unfortunately, because we could not have contractors on site in April, May and June. That delayed the projects of the municipality. We had quite a number of community protests on the specific site. It was too much two faction of the ANC fighting with each other.”

In September, a Treasury report recommended the prosecution of some officials who presided over awarding of tenders before the new administration took over in 2016. Those implicated include former Municipal Manager Oupa Sebola. They are accused of contravening the Municipal Finance Management Act. The alleged tender irregularities amount to more than R80 million.

“The report is asking that we open a criminal case against Mr OP Sebola. That is the former municipal manager that we inherited when the municipality was amalgamated. He used to be the manager of former Mookgopong Municipality. It is important to note that in the first meeting we had, we actually decided we were not taking Mr Sebola as an accounting officer and we had the cooperation of the EFF and the FF-Plus and we voted out Mr Sebola,” says Mayor Marlene van Staden.

DA provincial leader Jacque Smalle says people must account.

“There were clear attempts for these reports not to see the light of the day and one can only make a conclusion about the attempts but we will drive the holding of the people to account and for the returning of the lost funds back to the institution,” says Smalle.

The ANC has denied any involvement in the reported irregularities. ANC Waterberg regional spokesperson, Matome Moremi-Taueatsoala, says the ANC cannot take the blame.

“The Fundudzi forensic report, as we speak now, their mandate was between 2017 and 2018 when they saw suspicious transactions going on in that municipality around December 2017 and the ANC led from 2011 to 2016. In 2017 December, you still want to apportion the blame on the ANC, on anything that is going on. They failed to conduct their own oversight as the DA-led coalition.”

The debt-ridden municipality hopes to recover 80% of the money lost.