Corruption report reveals municipal managers’ offices graft

Published Aug 19, 2021


DURBAN - CORRUPTION Watch (CW) pointed a finger at municipal managers for being instigators of corruption and cause for failure to ensure service delivery in many local municipalities across the country.

A report released by CW on Wednesday revealed that the institution had received many corruption issues that have plagued municipalities throughout South Africa for almost 10 years, as reflected in the more than 5 000 whistle-blowers that have reported cases within local government, to the organisation since its inception in 2012 until the end of last year.

“In its nine years of existence, Corruption Watch has received almost 33 000 whistle-blower reports, 16% of which represent allegations of local government corruption. These corruption reports expose the inadequacies of local government structures that fail to deliver basic services to their own communities,” read the report.

Melusi Ncala, CW researcher and author of the report, said: “What is evident in the majority of corruption cases relating to local governance is that South Africa, broadly, has a leadership crisis.

“Consequently, the hedges of the country’s democracy are unprotected because politicians and administrators alike are serving personal, factional and private interests. Not even a global pandemic could make them pause and think about the people they promised to serve. During their frenzy, the hardships experienced by the elderly, unemployed youth, the impoverished men and women were compounded due to a lack of basic service delivery,” said Ncala.

The organisation said: “Municipalities were autonomous institutions mandated to adhere to principles of accountability, democracy, and good governance, manifested through providing basic services, cultivating safe and healthy environments, and encouraging community members and organisations to participate in municipal processes and programmes.

“They are directly responsible for ensuring that communities have water and sanitation, electricity, developed and maintained infrastructure, and that community members have a voice in decisions that affect their lives.”

“The highest number of allegations of corruption in local government – a record number of 857 – were received in 2020. There was also a 50% increase in cases stemming from the Eastern Cape, Free State, KZN and the Western Cape, compared to the previous year.”

Metropolitan municipalities are the most implicated in corruption-related reports with the City of Johannesburg topping the list with 700, Ekurhuleni with 354, the City of Tshwane with 325, eThekwini with 166, and the City of Cape Town at 125.

“The most prevalent types of corruption taking place within the office of the municipal manager include irregularities in the procurement process, embezzlement of funds and employment irregularities, all of which have a direct link to service delivery. Reports also point to nepotism, bribery, and disregard for policies and laws, with implicated officials rarely being held accountable. There are several instances of companies billing double for services, such as in the City of Cape Town, or allegations of business syndicates with major influence over municipal processes.”

According to CW, the report gives credence to the auditor-general of SA’s (Agsa) findings that the eight metropolitan municipalities, 44 district municipalities and estimated 200 local municipalities are in the main poorly managed. The latest estimated figure from Agsa for irregular expenditure is a staggering R32 billion.

Corruption Watch commended the brave whistle-blowers who chose to expose the self-serving and corrupt actions of people entrusted with municipal duties, thereby highlighting the injustices brought about by such unacceptable abuse of power.

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