South Africa 12.7.2018 06:30 am

Greater Giyani municipality suspends VBS-linked officials

Construction on the Greater Giyani Local Municipality building has been halted because operational funds were invested in VBS Mutual Bank and cannot be accessed. Picture: Alex Matlala

Construction on the Greater Giyani Local Municipality building has been halted because operational funds were invested in VBS Mutual Bank and cannot be accessed. Picture: Alex Matlala

A failure to complete projects allegedly started after the municipality invested its operational budget in VBS Mutual.

The Greater Giyani Local Municipality in Limpopo, which has invested more than half of its operational budget in the controversial VBS Mutual Bank, has suspended its chief financial officer (CFO) and director of technical services amid allegations of financial misconduct and tender irregularities amounting to millions of rands.

The suspensions allegedly come after Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu’s forensic audit report for the 2016/17 financial year found that the chief financial officer had failed to manage municipal funds.

The report shows that he invested municipal funds to the tune of R158 million in VBS. It is also alleged he authorised questionable payments to some projects without following Municipal Finance Management Act prescripts.

The technical services head was allegedly suspended after the audit probe showed that she failed to manage and complete several projects that remained “white elephants” for years within the municipality. This in spite of allegations some of the contractors had already been paid huge service fees.

The failure to complete projects allegedly started after the municipality invested its operational budget in VBS Mutual.

The Citizen understands that there have also been allegations of failure to give account of how R64.4 million was spent on an incomplete civic centre, built within the Giyani central business district, while the auditor-general revealed that the municipality couldn’t account for R40 million of wasteful and unauthorised expenditure for the financial year 2016/17.

Municipal spokesperson Steven Mabunda confirmed the suspensions of chief financial officer Hitler Maluleke and head of technical services, Patience Mathebula.

Mabunda said Maluleke and Mathebula were expected to face disciplinary action at the municipal offices today.

DA councillor Hasani Shivambu said: “The Limpopo government banks with Standard bank, but then [Maluleke] chose to ignore the red tape and invest taxpayers’ money into [VBS] bank, in an endeavour to please his political juntas.

“Now, because of the investment, the municipality is unable to complete some of its projects. Soon, it will be unable to pay salaries of its employees because of such kinds of misconducts. That is why the DA will not stand back and allow the ANC-led administration to loot the public coffers. The people of Giyani deserve better, they deserve change.”

The EFF in Mopani district said the suspension of Maluleke and Mathebula was the start of an exodus of all section 57 managers in the 15 municipalities who had invested in VBS Mutual.

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