File photo: Reuters

Johannesburg - A hundredfold salary increase for some Limpopo municipal officials!

Clerks and secretaries “offered” car allowances, while the R890 000 annual salary package for the municipal manager was said to have increased to R1.2 million without council knowledge.

These allegations are contained in a “rapid assessment report” on Thabazimbi local municipality seen by The Star.

The probe that reveals an apparent free-for-all state of affairs at the council was commissioned by the provincial Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs Department.

The report suggests Thabazimbi, which for the past two consecutive financial years received disclaimer audit opinions, was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

A disclaimer is derived at when the auditee does not provide the auditor-general with sufficient evidence in the form of documentation on which to base an audit opinion, according to the A-G’s website.

The municipality’s monthly salary bill doubled to R13.5m after a new organogram was introduced in 2012, the report states. Just more than R500m was paid to a placement agency to help fill newly created positions.

The placement process lacked transparency, resulting in salaries of elevated officials being increased by 100 percent.

“All employees were offered car allowances, even clerks and secretaries who did not qualify for allowances,” the report states in part.

The municipality has denied allegations that the council did not endorse the municipal manager’s hefty salary. Spokesman Joshua Motsomane said clerks and secretaries do not receive car allowances.

However, he conceded that the municipality often experiences cash-flow problems and fails to contribute towards workers’ pension fund and medical aid schemes.

Motsomane agreed that his municipality is unable to collect R148m debt owed to it by consumers, saying this amount had accumulated over many years.

“We provide services to them but they are not paying,” he said.

The municipality owes R54m to Eskom and R20m to the Magalies Water Board. Motsomane said arrangements were in place to service the debt.

The report alleges that R73m had been spent, but the municipality couldn’t provide supporting documents.

Motsomane said documents had been “confiscated” by the Special Investigating Unit and were unavailable when the A-G needed them for audit.

Service providers had abandoned infrastructure projects because they have not been paid.

“Projects have been stalled due to cash-flow (problems). These projects are resuming in July,” said Motsomane.

DA provincial leader Jacques Smalle said Thabazimbi should be placed under administration.

The report’s authors recommended that a forensic investigation be done at the municipality.

The report said mayor Patricia Mosito and municipal manager Edward Ntsoane had dismissed the assessment as a “political ploy to settle political scores” and therefore refused to co-operate.

The mayor told The Star the department should first place a notice in a Government Gazette before assessing her municipality.

[email protected]

The Star