Here is a prime example of the state of affairs at the typical local municipality in South Africa. In short it can only be described as a total breakdown of financial controls and corporate governance.
Related links: The state of our municipalities
Bloemfontein - Managers and officials of the Setsoto local municipality could face criminal and disciplinary charges over allegations of theft, fraud and corruption, the Free State government said on Thursday.
Free State Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Mamiki Qabathe ordered a probe into the municipality after protester Andries Tatane died in service delivery protests earlier this year.
In an executive summary of its report released on Wednesday, it found that the municipality was in total disarray with no proper management and financial control.
It was totally unstable because of widespread theft, fraud and corruption.
The investigation found that supply chain management department staff were often coerced by senior managers into making orders that were against policy.
It recommended that the municipality's director of corporate services be suspended and investigated over alleged illegal staff appointments and the unauthorised buying of vehicles.
The chief financial officer should also be suspended and disciplined for allegedly buying 90 desktop computers at inflated prices.
The municipality’s IT officer should also face disciplinary charges over the employment of his fiancée at the municipality.
The investigators also recommended that two demand and acquisition clerks be suspended pending criminal investigation of fraud and corruption.
Another clerk in the same department should be sent on precautionary leave pending a forensic investigation.
Co-operative governance spokesperson Ntai Mokhitli said the full report could not be released because of the pending disciplinary charges against some officials.
In the summary, investigators indicated that the Meqheleng Concerned Citizens (MCC) group under whose leadership most of the protests were conducted had some "personal interests" in the Setsoto local municipality.
One of the findings was that the MCC wanted "our comrades" to be appointed at the municipality.
The investigators said that in a letter from the MCC to the municipality on March 25, a request was made for "intervention and collaboration in the filling of the vacant advertised posts".
In the letter, the MCC said it would be "appropriate" for the accounting officer to give 18 of "our people" employment in the municipality.
"All this will count in your favour as the municipality," the MCC wrote.
"We’ll provide you with the list of all our comrades today, March 25 2011."
Earlier, MCC spokesperson Sam Motseare said this allegations and others were not true.
"It's a blatant lie," he said.
The Setsoto municipality covers the towns of Ficksburg, Senekal, Clocolan and Marquard.
Mokhitli said the report and recommendations were tabled before the Setsoto municipal council last week.
The department would closely monitor the implementation of the recommendations.