REGISTRATION for Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality councillors was cancelled with Fort Hare University (UFH) due to non-availability of funds, despite the council resolving to continue paying for former councillors and to avoid a negative audit finding.
This was discussed during a special council meeting at the town hall on Tuesday.
The agenda item had recom-mended councillors who wished to participate in recognised capacity-building programmes organised by Salga at tertiary institutions, be allowed to do so, subject to availability of funds.
The recommendations stated that former councillors who had already enrolled for capacity-building courses with the assistance of the municipality during their term of office be allowed to continue with their studies, with the help of the municipality “… provided that the municipality develops and adopts a policy that regulates their training or takes a resolution to avoid negative audit findings by the auditor general.” Council was also urged and resolved to limit the number of new enrolments for the 2017 financial year.
Provision for funding would be made in the adjustment budget for the 2016/2017 financial year, something that was not done as the budget was adopted in the same meeting.
The United Front’s sole councillor Aaron Mhlontlo said council speaker Mzoxolo Peter fell short of saying why current councillors’ registrations were cancelled. He questioned why former councillors should benefit from the local authority. “We wasted money on February 8 and 9 and went to East London to register at UFH. Enoch Mgijima committed to pay and at the end of the year UFH will bill the municipality,” he said.
He questioned if this would not become an audit query. He said councillors should have been asked if they could afford their own transport and accommo-dation to and from East London.
DA councillor Malibongwe Xhelisilo suggested negotiating with local institutions as a way of saving money and make decisions in the interest of local residents.
He said classes were formed according to the number of students and the municipality was legally liable to pay, as a letter of commitment had been signed.
Corporate services portfolio head Noluthando Nqabisa said the municipality could not afford to send councillors and employees to school this year.
She said revenue would have improved by next year and the municipality would then be able to send them to school. She said the municipality was obliged to pay for the former councillors.
Executive mayor Lindiwe Gunuza Nkwentsha said the local authority should obtain legal opinion on the letter of commitment to pay. She said the municipality should also engage UFH to investigate the possibility of bringing lecturers to Komani.
“Our level of education is not the same. Perhaps we can also send some councillors to technical vocational education and training institutions. We must exhaust all avenues in trying to get capacity building for the councillors. The speaker’s office and councillor Nqabisa can deal with the matter.”