Business 2.8.2017 12:29 pm

Mashaba’s office denies imminent firing of finance MMC

The interior of the new Joburg council chamber in Metro Centre, Braamfontein
Pic: City of Joburg

The interior of the new Joburg council chamber in Metro Centre, Braamfontein Pic: City of Joburg

ANC Joburg claims the mayor is looking for a ‘sacrificial lamb’ after taking drastic decisions that have had a negative impact on revenue generation.

Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba’s acting spokesperson, Luyanda Mfeka, has denied claims made by ANC Johannesburg that the mayor plans to fire MMC for finance Rabelani Dagada.

The Citizen is in possession of various unverified reports that suggest the City may be in a “precarious financial position”, mainly resulting from February’s mid-term budget review.

The approved adjustments to the City’s operational budget, inherited from the ANC administration after 2016 local government elections, allowed for changes such as allocating R546 million to electrify incomplete housing units.

During the State of the City Address in May, Mashaba announced a further allocation of R41 million to electrify five informal settlements. R51 million was allocated to procure additional buses for Metrobus and a further R5 million for refurbishment of the existing fleet.

In a speech hailed as being “pro-poor”, the City allocated R49 million to Pikitup for additional cleaning shifts. Millions of rands were also ring-fenced to fund the City’s anti-corruption unit, headed by former Gauteng Hawks boss General Sibiya.

READ MORE: 100 suspended, 12 resign, 7 dismissed from City of Joburg

In a press statement this morning, ANC Joburg region said it “learned without any surprise about the imminent axing of the current MMC for Finance Councillor Rabelani Dagada by Mayor Mashaba”.

The party said the planned axing of Dagada “comes amid continued problems in the City’s Revenue Department regarding the escalating billing crisis, which in the words of the mayor has reached unprecedented proportions”.

The official opposition party in the Joburg council chamber also claimed Mashaba “has messed up the system and now seeks a sacrificial lamb to take the blame for his ill-thought decisions”. Among the “ill-thought” decisions mentioned is changing the executive management team of the revenue department three times in 12 months.

Mashaba is also blamed for personally removing the executive director of the revenue department “immediately when he came into office”. The suspension of the CEO of City Power is also alleged to have “destabilised a key contributor to the city’s revenue”.

‘Given the timing of the mid-term budget, the DA didn’t quite understand the impact of their amendments.’

A source familiar with the City’s finance operations also claimed the firing of the chief financial officer as well as the resignation of head of treasury had plunged the City’s finances into disarray.

“The DA amended the mid-term budget, and it has had a negative impact on the City’s financial status. In all probability, given the timing of the mid-term budget, the DA didn’t quite understand the impact of their amendments, and it has proved to be disastrous. Apparently, City has money to pay for salaries only,” the source said.

Lesego Ngobeni, acting stakeholder relations manager for Dagada, referred all queries to Mfeka. Mfeka in turn denied the allegations, saying there were no plans to remove the former associate professor of development economics at Wits University.

The City was also sent a list of questions related to various allegations of financial impropriety, tender irregularities, violation of Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA), and The Citizen was told a comprehensive response will be provided this week.

Mashaba’s budget address to focus on Joburg’s ‘forgotten people’

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