Ngwathe Municipality on the verge of bankruptcy

Ngwathe Mayor Victoria De Beers

Ngwathe Mayor Victoria De Beers

Published Mar 2, 2024


A showdown has ensued between some councillors of Ngwathe Municipality in the Northern Free State and municipal officials.

This was as the officials snub various Integrated Development Planning (IDP) around various towns in the region.

IDPs are important as municipalities use them as a guide to give an overall framework for development. They aim to co-ordinate the work of local and other spheres of government in a coherent plan to improve the quality of life for all the people living in an area.

The process of holding IDPs are also considered for the existing conditions, problems and resources that were available for development. These plans should look at the economic and social development for the area.

The municipality’s spokesperson Steve Naale did not respond to enquiries sent to him by Independent Media.

However, a municipal councillor known to the publication said the reason why these officials were not attending meetings was because they knew that the municipality was broke.

“These people are not attending public meetings for IDPs and budget to answer to various communities. The mayor is also not in attendance.

“I suspect that the reason why they don’t attend is because they don’t have plans nor answers for the community,” added the councillor.

The councillor further said some councillors want to hold them to account but ‘some were in the pockets of the municipal manager and the mayor, especially her mayoral committee members’.

“It is strange that the mayor, municipal manager and officials decide not to attend the meeting, especially as the municipality was in the process of dealing with annual report. It then begs the question of what they are all trying to hide from the community,” said the councillor.

She further alluded that the municipal finances were only good on paper as in reality, they did not have funds to run the municipality, and that they were operating on an ‘unfunded budget’.

Currently the municipality’s financial year for 2022/2023 revealed that the unauthorised, irregular, fruitless, and wasteful expenditure incurred by the municipality stood at a whopping R545 million in unauthorised expenditure, while R332 million went on irregular expenditure. The financial statement further revealed that fruitless and wasteful expenditure stood at R141 million, due to interest and penalties charged.

In addition to this, two municipal employees belonging to the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) stormed the finance department and made off with payroll machines.

These two employees whose names are known to the publication, are alleged to be the mayor’s henchmen.

Director of finance in the municipality, Themba Mpindo confirmed that the incident took place, adding that both men were escorted out of the building by the security personnel.

“The municipality has not opened a case against the two gentleman, however, we have instituted our own internal procedures.

As we speak the two have been issued with letters of notice of suspension and they have 14 days to respond to the letters,” Mpindo said.

When asked what the reason for it was, the director said the employees were demanding to paid their acting allowance which the municipality did not authorise.

Mpindo said the two were acting on a purported fake letter, which the municipality does not recognise.

Saturday Star