Johannesburg - Gauteng MEC for Cooperative Governance Lebogang Maile has urged political bosses of two municipalities which invested millions with VBS Mutual Bank to act with speed against the implicated officials or face the consequences.
Maile’s threats came just a few days after he threatened to place 11 municipalities including the DA controlled City of Joburg and the City of Tshwane under administration - accusing them of maladminsitration.
He has since appointed a committee to advise him on a course of action.
On Thursday he turned his attention to the Merafong Local Municipality and the West Rand District Municipality which have collectively invested R126 million with VBS Mutual Bank.
The office of Maphefo Mogale-Letsie - Mayor of Merafong Local Municipality and Dennis Thabe - newly-elected mayor of the West Rand District Municipality - confirmed receipt of the letter.
Both confirmed that Maile had respectively urged them to fully implement the recommendations emanating from forensic investigations. The reports from Deloitte recommended that appropriate disciplinary action and criminal proceedings be instituted against the officials that invested funds with VBS and that steps be taken to ensure the recovery of the public funds that were unlawfully invested.
West Rand invested about R77 million while Merafong invested R50m.
Last year in October, the District Municipality was hit by a series of protests following its failure to pay salaries on time including third parties such as the South African Revenue Service and employees’ pension contributions.
Strike action was halted following the intervention of the Gauteng provincial government. Maile’s spokesperson Castro Ngobese said his political boss was firmly committed to making sure that public funds should not be used “as a golden den to enrich individuals” at the expense of service delivery and improving the lives of the people for the better.
“Furthermore, MEC Maile is deeply concerned that both municipalities have not, in a principled manner acted on the recommendations. MEC Maile further believes that action taken against implicated officials will come a long way in restoring public confidence and slowly repair the already tarnished image of public service. It will also send a very strong message to society that government is waging a relentless fight against any form of impropriety,” Ngobese said.
Ngobese said Maile has “directed both mayors to provide him with a comprehensive response within 7 days of receipt of his directives as contained in the letters, on the implementation of the recommendations of the forensic reports.”
“Failure by the two municipalities to provide compelling or convincing reasons, Maile warns that ‘heads must roll’ in the interest of selfishly safeguarding public funds,” Ngobese said.
Merafong local municipality spokesperson Bridgette Mkhontwana said her municipality had already acted against two of its officials who invested money in VBS. Mkhontwana said the municipality was waiting for the final outcome of their disciplinary hearings. She said the municipality had laid criminal charges with the Hawks against the third official who has since left the employ of the council.
“The municipality is awaiting the legal opinion from senior counsel regarding the civil recovery proceedings. The municipality is implementing the recommendations in the Deloitte report to the fullest extent and is keeping the provincial government updated on the progress,” Mkhontwana said.
West Rand Mayor Dennis Thabe could not be reached for comment on measures taken to implement the recommendations of the forensic report.