Law tightens on corrupt officials

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Johannesburg - Corrupt municipal officials found guilty of financial misconduct will no longer be re-employed in any municipality for more than 10 years as of July 1.

This comes after new tightened regulations meant to crack down on corruption and financial misconduct against municipal officials, including city managers and executives of municipal entities, were gazetted into law on Friday.

But any disciplinary process instituted before July 1 and not yet completed will be finalised in terms of the applicable regulations when the process began or may, by agreement in writing between an affected official and municipal council, be finalised in terms of the new ones.

According to the new regulations published by the Treasury, municipalities can no longer ignore fraud allegations brought against officials including councillors.

The new rules on financial misconduct procedures and criminal proceedings have also handed powers to councils to institute investigations on allegations of financial misconduct and decide the fate of those found guilty by a disciplinary board.

Last year, the Co-operative Governance Department tabled the regulations in Parliament proposing a ban on municipal senior managers found guilty of misconduct.

It followed the damning auditor-general’s audit of the 278 municipalities that found a clean bill of financial health in only nine of them – and none of them metros, such as Cape Town, eThekwini, Joburg and Tshwane.

The auditor-general’s report highlighted procurement violations – 94 percent of the R9.82 billion in irregular expenditure related to the flouting of procedures, such as those requiring three quotes for the inviting of competitive bidders to submit tenders.

Also highlighted was the lack of consequences for wrongdoing – including senior managers and councillors doing business with their municipalities, or failing to disclose their financial interests.

Similar regulations, also proposed last year, recommended senior managers found guilty of misconduct be dismissed without notice, if the council had complied with the Labour Relations Act.

According to the Government Gazette, municipalities must keep records of allegations of financial misconduct, name and position of the person against whom allegations were made and steps to recover unauthorised, irregular or fruitless expenditure.

The SA Municipal Workers Union has welcomed the new regulations.

Saturday Star

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