Malicious accusations which led to his name being dragged through the mud have been the norm for Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM) administrator Vuyo Mlokothi who has spoken out to provide clarity on issues affecting the area.
Mlokothi tabled his report to MEC for cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) Xolile Nqatha, in terms of section 139 (b) (5) as implemented, during a special council meeting on July 24, which detailed the progress or lack thereof, of work done to assist the local authority.
The report is titled “How to collapse a municipality in full view of its vanguard” a copy of which is in possession of The Rep, and covers the six-month period from March that Mlokothi was given to turn around the local authority’s financial situation.
Speaking to The Rep during a one-on-one interview, Mlokothi expressed how thankful he was to “finally” have been afforded a platform to express his sentiments and clarify some issues, after several media reports that could potentially damage his reputation and character.
Mlokothi, whose terms of reference included the implementation of cost cutting measures, reported how councillors and officials at the municipality collectively owed R1.7m to the university of Fort Hare in 2018 for course fees, accommodation, transport and overtime for the driver who ferried them.
The administrator said it must be noted that the gazette on upper limits of councillors for the 2017/18 financial year prohibited municipalities from enrolling councillors in institutions of higher learning.
“The enrolment of councillors at Fort Hare in the said financial year was unlawful and constituted misconduct. The fact that the municipality has not yet honoured its commitment with Fort Hare indicates that the commitment was made without the necessary funds being available. The commitment itself was unlawful. Councillors who registered and attended the institution and the person who made the commitment to pay should be held accountable for the debt incurred during the 2017/18 financial year. Commitments made by EMLM for course fees during the 2016/17 financial year are still not fully met, only travelling and accommodation costs were paid up front.”
Mlokothi said it was communicated to both councillors and officials last year that the local authority was in no financial state to fund studies, but following a communique to them from human resources, it transpired they had already started attending classes, which increased the debt to R2.4m.
He said all costs incurred for councillors and officials for tertiary education for the 2017/18 financial year would have to recovered from them personally.
Mlokothi said his other key duty, which was the implementation of the financial recovery plan, was significantly compromised by council’s decision of March 29 to remove him or change the person of the administrator.
“When I resumed duties on April 30, subsequent to the political intervention made, it was found no one took the responsibility to oversee the implementation of the plan and most of the implementation time lines had fallen between the cracks. Without an administrator on site, the required monthly progress reports on the plan were not produced for March and April.”
Mlokothi said the failure to produce the reports had a direct impact on the future of the municipality because it meant the municipality could not implement the plan and was unable to function on its own, which led to the withholding of the municipality’s equitable share by national treasury.
Responding to questions regarding his personal interests in an alleged security tender matter, Mlokothi said his hands were clean and that a report about the flouting of tender processes from the municipality’s lawyers had been taken to the hawks.
The Rep reported (Tender disaster, August 2) that Mlokothi had said: “Out of the seven bidders, four companies that did not qualify were evaluated. I told them I could not approve the tender and appointed an independent company with security expertise to re-evaluate the report. I appointed a legal company from a panel of three which were already in the municipality’s database. I simply chose the one which I thought had knowledge in this field. The legal firm confirmed the irregularities in the process and recommended the CFO be charged for allowing unlawful activities to prevail in his presence.”
Mlokothi said council resolved that all appointments made in his absence were to be reversed, as the appointment of an acting municipal manager during the time he was forcefully removed from office was unlawful.
He said they would have been removed before his term ended in September.