A parliamentary committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Water and Sanitation has instructed the North West provincial government and the Bojanala District Municipality to urgently investigate and institute consequences against those who participated in the irregular and “erroneous” transfer of R134 million into Bojanala District Municipality’s which was used without council’s approval.
The committee said it was unacceptable that the transfer was not picked up in time and that oversight mechanisms were ignored.
“It is totally unacceptable that assurance processes within the provincial Department of Cooperative Governance did not pick up the erroneous transfer to Bojanala before it happened. Furthermore, municipal oversight mechanisms seem to have failed, as they did not pick up the issue timeously, and the Municipal Public Accounts Committee will only sit this Friday to look into the matter,” said China Dodovu, the chairperson of the committee.
He said the committee also found it unacceptable that the Department of Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Leaders transferred funds to Bojanala without gazetting the transfer as per the Division of Revenue Act principles.
According to Bojanala District Municipality spokesperson Archie Babeile, both the municipal manager (MM) and the chief financial officer (CFO) had been placed on precautionary suspension on allegations of financial misconduct while the investigation was under way.
“With the current ongoing investigations, we are unable to pre-empt what is going to happen to them, or to those others who are involved. The investigations will probe all areas of concerns, including what the money was used for and how,” he said.
Babeile said the money that was erroneously transferred into the municipality’s bank account did not disappear, but was used.
“However, the transfer was not disclosed to Council and it should be noted that Council did not authorise the expenditure of R134 million,” he explained.
In a written response to The Citizen’s questions yesterday, Babeile said following the advice from the National and Provincial Treasury, the money was paid back to the Provincial Department of Local Government and Traditional Affairs.
“As of now, the R134m has been fully paid back in three instalments. However, this has negatively affected the budget allocation of the current financial year,” he said.
Babeile explained that the repayment of the money had negatively affected the financial status of the municipality which has led to the special adjustment of the budget for the current financial year.
“A financial recovery plan developed is geared towards ensuring that the municipality becomes financially stable/ viable,” he said.
According to the City Press, the money was used to pay for catering and the clearing of illegal dumping sites when the municipality was too broke to even pay its workers.