Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says a forensic report will be released at the end of this month to reveal how several municipalities invested millions of rands with the controversial VBS bank.
It is alleged that about R2 billion in public investments are missing from the bank’s records. Mkhize told the media in Pretoria that the government is planning to redefine the imposing of section 139 to municipalities with challenges that affect the delivery of services.
The VBS scandal has led to the sacking of hundreds of employees attached to the Limpopo based mutual bank. This is after the bank was declared bankrupt and could not repay hundreds of its clients. The ruling party has recently called for the expulsion of its councillors at various municipalities who are implicated in the VBS scandal.
Mkhize says a consolidated report will give a clear direction of those implicated in the scandal. He addressed the media following the 4th Cogta meeting in Pretoria. “We are receiving the reports, they’ve to be consolidated. There’s quite a number of municipalities that are acting on those members who are implicated. We are expecting a consolidated report to be released end of the month. For now we’ve decided to have it shelved. Therefore we will get to the municipalities to start its action.”
The unacceptable salaries of councillors also formed part of the agenda. Mkhize says the department is engaging with relevant structures. “Because of the nature of the matter a lot of consultations have to be done, beyond provincial governments that have to be consulted there has to be regular consultations between ourselves and the Minister of Treasury in this regard, also when it comes to the issue of the remuneration of councillors we have to consult with Judge Mmusi who is in charge of the commission of the remuneration. Now as result of the lengthy consultative processes, this ends up having the enouncements done late.”
Regarding municipalities that are not generating enough revenue, and operating at a loss, Mkhize says there is a need to render the necessary assistance. However, he said the deployment of administrators and teams of experts at affected municipalities will be reviewed, as in some instances it has led to confusions in the running of municipalities. “Sometimes the municipalities are of the view that intervention might be going beyond what they thought was needed to be corrected now, this is a normal evolution of an issue that has been handled for the past 20 years. So we want to refine this approach. You may also be aware that recently, one municipality went to court to challenge the province on imposing section 139.”
Mkhize further says the department will continue to ensure that whistle blowers and the staff of Auditor General are not intimidated. The department is working with police in this regard.
“These attacks and these threats are completely unacceptable, that each and every province is going to be on a look out to quickly responding whenever we believe that these threats are arising and that we are determined to stop these kind s of criminal behaviour. We want to make sure that any time it rears its head, we actually act on it, it needs to be stamped out, and fortunately we get very good co-operation from the Minister of Police. They act immediately to do the risk assessment.”
This followed reports that Auditor General staff have been threatened by some municipal officials and unknown individuals in KwaZulu -Natal and Emfuleni in the Vaal in Gauteng. Click below for more on the story: