THE Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) in the North West has committed to investigate the Mayor of Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality, Khumalo Molefe, over allegations of soliciting funds from service providers.
This comes after the Sunday Independent revealed that Molefe, who is also the provincial chair of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), allegedly abused his office when he used municipal resources to ask for funds from a service provider to fund a company not associated with the municipality.
SALGA is an advocacy body that enforces the rights of local government, and lobbies and assists municipalities with the delivery of services.
In November 2023, Independent Media revealed that Molefe sent an email on June 22, 2023, to a service provider requesting R20 000 to fund a private company’s logistical expenses unrelated to the municipality.
After delaying to respond to Independent Media’s questions on why Cogta in the province had not acted, MEC for Human Settlement, Nono Maloyi, who is also Molefe’s ally, responded. His spokesperson Tumelo Maruping said: “Cogta notes the matter and will make a follow-up with the affected district municipality.”
In the email addressed to the service provider, Molefe wrote: “The above-mentioned NPO has produced a musical production titled ‘Nkgo ya Mosadi and Ke rona’ which will be premiered at the National Arts Festival from 22–29 June 2023. It is against this backdrop that I request your company to contribute at least R20 000 towards transport and accommodation to enable the NPO to attend the festival.”
Molefe also advised the service provider to make the payment into an FNB Gold account owned by the NPO. He further asked that the service provider contact the directors of the NPO for further information regarding logistical arrangements.
By doing so, Molefe contravened Section 117 of the Municipal Finance Management Act, which prohibits political interference in government procurement processes.
Act No 56 of 2003 of the the Local Government Municipal Finance Management stipulates that “no political structure or office-bearer of a municipality may set up a relief, charitable, trust, or other fund”.
“A municipality may in terms of section 7 open a separate bank account in the name of the municipality for the purpose of a relief, charitable, trust or other fund. Money received by the municipality for the purpose of relief, charitable, trust of other funds must be paid into a bank account of the municipality,” reads the act.
Furthermore, the act states that: “The money may only be withdrawn from the account by or on the written authority of the accounting officer acting in accordance with decisions of the municipal council, and for the purpose for which, and subject to any conditions, on which the fund was established or the money in the fund was donated for.”
Concerned by the allegations at the mayor’s office, this triggered public calls by the Sanco leadership in the province to call for Molefe’s removal.
In November last year, Sanco chairperson Tshepo Khoza said Molefe was “advancing his own agenda” and not being willing to help the community following several delivery protests in the area. Khoza appealed to the premier, Busy Maape, to urgently step up to his role and investigate the allegations.
"He must be seen to have performed a preliminary investigation. The matter can then be referred to the competent law enforcement authorities. It is not for the MEC to decide whether there is a case against the person facing the accusation," said Khoza.
Sources within the municipality raised concern, citing that Cogta in the North West was Molefe’s best friend and therefore no action would be taken.
“Whenever a media query is sent, Molefe calls his friend (MEC) and discusses the questions with them and how they must not respond to the media,” a source said.
This was not the first time Molefe faced allegations of abusing his powers to extort funds from service providers. In January 2023, Independent Media published an article where he was accused of allegedly extorting money from local service providers who were doing business with the municipality and allegedly using the funds to build “a compound”.
Sources said he also bought his wife a BMW and several cars, including a Toyota Hilux. They claimed this was after service providers were called to a secret meeting with Molefe and requested to donate money.
Last year, Molefe shocked his ANC comrades after he dished out at least five contracts shortly after he was elected. He is said to have done the same again a few months later.
The issuing of the contracts allegedly happened in a business forum meeting in Deelpan, where Molefe allegedly issued instructions to two officials from his office, who were present at the meeting, to share the needs of the municipality with local contractors.