Pretoria - Executive Mayor of Polokwane, Makoro John Mpe, said two senior executive management officials had been suspended as the municipal council endeavoured to get to the bottom of matters flagged by the office of the auditor-general, and a forensic investigation.
In September 2022, the Polokwane Council approved the terms of reference for a forensic investigation into various matters premised on the recommendations of the auditor-general and the Office of the Public Protector.
In October 2022, the municipality then appointed “a credible and independent firm with an impeccable record” to lead the forensic investigation.
“The forensic investigation report was presented to council on April 21. This report together with its recommendations were then adopted for implementation by council. The findings of the forensic investigation detailed various allegations of wrongdoing and maladministration by some of our employees which include managers and directors,” Mpe said at a briefing in Polokwane.
“Following the recommendations of the forensic investigations, council took a decision to institute disciplinary proceedings against the implicated employees. Council has on its special meeting held on May 8, taken a decision to suspend two of its executive management officials in order to make way for them to undergo a disciplinary process.”
The mayor said the forensic investigation was conducted following reports of irregularities in terms of recruitment process, appointment of contractors and pre-evaluation process, among others, in the municipality.
“It has to be emphasised that at no point has council decided to investigate everyone in the municipality, but acting on the basis of the outcomes of the auditor-general’s report. This is to ensure that in every public institution there is consequence management processes put in place.
“Furthermore, the forensic investigation is part of institutionalising principles of good governance, a culture of accountability, consequences and performance management. Council has acted on the recommendations of Chapter 9 Institutions, which is mandatory in law. We are not given a choice, but a directive to execute these recommendations,” said Mpe.
“It is also important to note that as the allegations are made and recommendations arise from the investigations, this does not mean that those who are mentioned are guilty of wrongdoing, but have a case to answer to as the principle of innocent until proven guilty is upheld.”
He said the senior officials had to undergo a due disciplinary process aimed at testing the validity of the allegations.
“The culture of accountability and performance need to be our way of life in our endeavour to provide quality services for the people of Polokwane,” said Mpe.
The mayor took the opportunity to update communities about the water supply situation.
“The communities are being misled by certain individuals to believe that the challenges, particularly in Seshego are as a result of interference by politicians including the executive mayor and councillors in the construction of the Seshego Water Treatment Plant. This follows a report in the media where lies were peddled against the executive mayor as having personal interest in the construction project and causing delays so that the people of Seshego should suffer water shortages,” said Mpe.
“We want to dismiss this as politicking, fabrication and an attack on the executive mayor and the councillors’ integrity. It is further an attack on the hard work that the executive mayor and all the role-players have been engaging on to ensure that there is a stabilised and consequently sustainable supply of water in the municipality.”
Mpe announced “a breakthrough” with regards to the construction of the water treatment plant in Seshego, following months of inactivity.
“The contractor has returned on site and resumed on April 14. This was after the municipality issued a letter to the contractor instructing them to resume site not later than April 14 or deal with our intention to terminate the contract. The letter was also a refusal to the claim that was submitted by the contractor for the municipality to release retention before the project is practically completed as per the terms of contract,” he said.
The work was at 90% progress, according to Mpe, and nearing completion.
He said the contractor had resumed work on site and the plan was to complete after three months.
“The other major breakthrough was to get approval from Eskom to isolate major water infrastructure from load shedding. And for that, we appreciate policy decisions by the national government on this matter. There are still challenges, particularly in some of the high-lying areas in Seshego and City and we are working on measures to improve supply in those areas,” said Mpe.
“In the meantime, when there are challenges related to breakdowns, areas that are high-lying are supplied with water through municipal tankers. We are getting there and we call upon our communities and all stakeholders to join us as we together build, brick by brick, a better Polokwane, a better city and the city of our dreams.”