Municipality in Free State spent R7 million on non-existing dam

Denis Bloem (left). l PHILL MAGAKOE

Denis Bloem (left). l PHILL MAGAKOE

Published Feb 17, 2024


The Matjhabeng municipality is no different from almost all the municipalities in the Free State.

Activist and Citizens forum spokesperson Dennis Bloem told Independent Media on Friday that he was not surprised by the allegations.

Bloem said there was no consequence management at all in the province, adding that everyone was doing as they please.

“This seed of corruption and malfeasance in the Free State was planted by the former premier of the Free State, Ace Magashule. Corruption in the Free State will not stop. The only way to stop it, is when these thugs who are masquerading as leaders in government can be put behind bars they must wear orange uniforms,” Bloem added.

He was reacting to the revelation by Auditor-General (AG) of South Africa, Tsakani Maluleke, who highlighted the fact that Matjhabeng paid for a flood-protection dam that was never built, resulting in a loss of R7.2 million.

In her report, Maluleke highlighted issues such as unfair procurement, ineffective financial reporting, and asset and investment losses.

She further emphasised the need for basic discipline and processes to prevent recurring irregularities and financial losses in the municipality.

The AG identified 268 material irregularities, including fraud, theft, and breaches of fiduciary duty, mentioning Matjhabeng Local Municipality as an example.

She said municipalities in the country suffered a loss to the tune of R5.6 billion due to irregularities and non-compliance between 2018-19 and 2021-22.

On the question of curbing maladministration, Bloem said this could be resolved by hiring competent, qualified, capable, and honest people, as opposed to hiring corrupt comrades.

“Corruption and maladministration are eating up our country. Almost all municipalities in country have collapsed. We can only change it by locking up these thieves.”

Free State Cogta and Human settlement MEC Ketso Makume said his department was not aware of the project, adding that it might fall under the Department of Water and Sanitation.

“I am not aware of this kind of project from the Municipal Infrastructure Grant. I will Zoom into projects happening in that town.”

Recently it was reported that the 50% of municipalities in the Free State were in dire financial distress.

Makume, at the time, admitted that the municipalities were struggling, but he added that the department was putting measures in place to ameliorate this.

The MEC attributed these challenges to the lack of revenue collection and also the fact that the municipalities were ineffective in filling critical positions.

“Not having financial systems in place in some of the municipalities, (as well as) no consequence management when there is cross-violation on finances or financial misconduct and how some of the municipalities were established and structured, they just make no economic (sense) whatsoever,” he commented.

Makume said this was due to lack of discipline by some in the administration. As a result, the department recommend consequence management be instituted. Another reason was that some municipalities’ remuneration was not attractive to some of the professionals, which was due to how municipalities are established and structured.

The AG’s report showed that 268 material irregularities occurred in the year 2022/23 municipality audits under the municipal FinanciaI Management Act. This amounted to an estimated value of R5.19 billion.

“Most of these were related to procurement and payments, resource management, revenue management and interest and penalties.”

Saturday Star

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