N. West province misses deadline to fill vacant municipal positions

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The North West province has missed the deadline to fill some of the senior management positions at its municipalities.

While the Department of Local Government concedes that the vacancies at management level such as finance and supply chains have opened a room for mismanagement, irregular expenditure and unauthorised spending, it also says this contributed to poor systems in place and resulted in possible fraud and corruption.

Chairperson for South African Local Government Association in North West Fetsang Mokati says, “We were requested by the premier to say by the end of October or the 15th of November all key positions must be filled. There are many key positions of the CFO’s. There are many key positions of the MM’s. For example, in Ditsobotla an MM was appointed, but he resigned in a short space of time. Those are the challenges. So, we are hoping that we will get relevant people in this posts.”

At the beginning, there were 140 vacancies in key positions, that included municipal managers, chief financial officers, and senior managers for supply chain, procurement, amongst others. Though some were filled, still 60% remain vacant.

Eight municipalities out of 22 municipalities in the province remain without municipal managers.

Spokesperson for Local Government, Ben Bole says this has caused instability.

“When there is no senior management positions which are filled, that on its own creates a very serious instability, in terms of good governance. Of course when there is no CFO’s and so on it will be very difficult to make sure that there is no unauthorised, irregular and wasteful expenditure, issues of fraud and corruption and so on.”

The latest Auditor General’s report released in November indicates that only 4 out of 22 municipalities received clean audits.

The North West province as well as the Free State were singled out as two of the worst performers.

Due to these vacancies, most municipalities resort to use consultants, resulting in more money spend on these services in the region of R126 million.

Those municipalities include Mamusa in Schweizer-Reneke, Ditsobotla in Litchenburg and Naledi in Vryburg.

Kevin Allan from Municipal IQ says the instabilities are caused by the changing of personnel in key positions.

“Part of the problem is that if people are not in their positions for a long time, that they do not have enough experience in their positions then productivity suffers, ultimately there is an impact on service delivery. We are also talking about senior managers in charge of things like procurement or tendering were people do not manage those processes properly and it turns out to issues of corruption so it impacts on delivery across a range of issues.”

Some of these municipalities, like Ditsobotla in Litchenburg and Lekwa-Teemane in Bloemhof have now been classified as insolvent.

They are unable to pay their bill with Eskom and provide basic services.

Early in 2017, disgruntled residents in Ditsobotla stormed the municipal offices and held the local mayor hostage demanding services.

Local Government maintain that advertisement and interviews for the senior positions are underway in some of the municipalities.