South Africa’s council to summon Speaker for walking out of Committee Meeting

South Africa’s council to summon Speaker for walking out of Committee Meeting

The North West Legislature’s Portfolio Committee on Premier, Finance, Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs chaired by Hon. Aaron Motswana has resolved to summon the Speaker of Mamusa Local Municipality, Cllr. Olebeng Mogorosi after he walked out of the Committee meeting where he was supposed to account on the compliance with the Provisions of Municipal Structures Act, Municipal Systems Act  and Municipal Financial Management Act (Chapter 10) at the municipality.

The Speaker was expected to confirm authenticity of council resolutions appointing or suspending the Chief Financial Officer who was also the Acting Municipal Manager, Ms Mercy Phethla and also compliance with the MFMA.

He walked out of the meeting questioning the presence of representatives of the Centre for Social Justice and Ms Phethla.

This follows a meeting with the municipality where the Mayor, Cllr. Seitebaleng Chelechele informed the Committee that there is lawlessness and dysfunctionality at the municipality due to a number of issues which include illegal appointment of acting Municipal Manager, Mr. Gaborone Mothibi and illegal transactions on the municipal bank account as well as change of signatories.

Hon. Motswana informed the Committee that the conduct of the Speaker of Mamusa was deplorable and concerning.

“We are going to take drastic steps of subpoenaing him as he cannot just walk out of our meeting where he was supposed to account on the dysfunctionality of the municipality. It shows gross arrogance, irresponsibleness and utter disrespect of the processes of the legislature.

Furthermore, he has shown complete disrespect to the process of the law being whether at the level of the municipality on abuse of standing orders and disregard of laws governing the legislature and prescripts of local government,” said Hon Motswana.

He said the Committee will further effect the prescripts of the Municipal Systems Act, Schedule 1, that addresses the conduct of Councillors. “We are also going to request MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Lina Miga to immediately investigate such conduct because we cannot have a Speaker who is a law unto himself,” said Hon. Motswana.

The Mayor of the municipality, Cllr. Chelechele informed the Committee that towards the end of November 2021, a council meeting called by the Speaker, Cllr. Mogorosi removed the then acting Municipal Manager, Ms. Phetlha and illegally appointed Mr. Mothibi who was the then Director Corporate Services.

“Later in the month, the bank signatories were changed without my consent as the Mayor and on 24 January 2022 when we were supposed to pay salaries, we discovered through the bank that the signatories were changed once more.

“The bank informed us that Mr. Mothibi changed the signatories hence we could not pay the salaries on time. We also discovered through the expenditure manager that an amount of about R300 000 was paid to a service provider who was not on the database of the municipality and no work was done to justify such amount. The bank also said it was Mr. Mothibi who illegally paid the money and blocked payment of salaries,” said Cllr. Chelechele.

She said MEC Miga was also informed about the developments at the municipality where she directed the two municipal managers including the Mayor to submit written reports on what transpired.

Hon. Motswana said the Committee will also direct the MEC Miga to investigate possibilities of interdicting the illegal use of municipal bank account as the Mayor informed the Committee that public funds were used unlawfully. “The usage of that account must be interdicted until we are informed of the rightful municipal manager as currently there are two accounting officers and chief financial officers,” said Hon. Motswana.

He said the Committee will also direct the law enforcement agencies to investigate allegations of financial misconduct at the municipality as this  has affected service delivery. “Both accounting officers together with the Mayor should submit a detailed report on what transpired from November 2021 to date. We want copies of minutes of the council that appointed Mr. Mothibi, notices of such meetings, recordings of all council sittings and forensic reports on financial misconduct and irregularities,” said Hon. Motswana.

Section 14 of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act, 2004 (Act No 24 of 2004) hereinafter referred to as “the Act” read with Section 115(a) of the Constitution, further read with the North West Provincial Legislature Rule 200(6) gives the Legislature powers to summon people to appear before it.

Failure to attend the meeting by people who have been summoned, is a criminal offence, punishable upon conviction, by a fine and imprisonment as contemplated in Section 17 of the Act.

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