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Accounts body ‘has no powers’

eThekwini’s municipal public accounts committee has become a “talk shop” with no power to take those who loot the public purse to task.

This was a concern expressed by members of the committee on Thursday who were angered by the fact that they had no budget, staff or powers to investigate complaints.

File Photo: The eThekwini Municipal Manager Sibusiso Sithole during the delivery of the Manase report at a media briefing. Picture: Gcina Ndwalane. Credit: INLSA

The independent body was set up in 2010 to scrutinise municipal spending.

The multi-party committee, consisting of 11 members, often complained that officials presented incomplete reports or did not pitch when called by it to account.

Council speaker Logie Naidoo said the committee monitored the entire council in matters relating to councillors, officials or municipal departments.

“The committee is there to look at where there has been a transgression in municipal legislation… Where matters are referred to them, they would interview the relevant people and provide a report to council,” he said.

Councillor Emam Shaik proposed that a polygraph test be done to determine who was “feeding people” confidential information.

Its deputy chairwoman Nompumelelo Chamane, said the committee needed to “unpack” what it meant by declaration of interest versus confidentiality.

“This is putting all of us at risk. We get mysterious phone calls about what was being said in the meeting.

“We are being harassed. Nobody chose to be here,” Chamane said

Another issue the committee raised was the lack of respect it received from officials.

Members have in the past complained about officials walking into its meetings during lunchtime.

Last month the committee accused city manager S’bu Sithole of making a mockery of the committee after he did not arrive at one of their meetings to answer questions.

Sithole later explained that he had other meetings that he had to attend that day.

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