Oudtshoorn Municipality update
The process of identifying the financial challenges facing the Oudtshoorn Municipality and responding to them effectively is progressing well and will do much to restore public confidence in the municipality. This is the key message emanating from the meeting between the Administrator, Mr Kamalasen Chetty and the Western Cape Minister of Finance, Dr Ivan Meyer earlier this week.
Oudtshoorn Municipality was placed under full administration with effect from 28 September 2015 which has resulted in all executive powers being withdrawn from the Council and placed firmly in the hands of Mr. Chetty who has since identified debt, revenue, budget, procurement, financial controls and staffing costs (in particular the high numbers of temporary staff) as priority areas that need immediate intervention. This approach has resulted in the secondment of Mr Raymond Esau to the position of Chief Financial Officer and Mr. Chris Koch as Director: Technical Services, with the former Acting CFO, Advocate Francois Human and Acting Municipal Manager, Mr. Ronnie Lottering, returning to their original positions of Director: Corporate Services and Director: Community Services respectively.
Plans are also firmly in place to tighten up procurement and staffing processes. In addition the provincial forensic team is continuing with its investigations, and is likely to release its preliminary finding before the end of the year. We have to restore the community’s confidence in the Municipality by dealing with the perception that “who you know” will get to a municipal tender or a job at the municipality. Putting in place an effective procurement and staffing policy will not only promote fairness and transparency but also restore public confidence in the municipality and its processes. Western Cape Provincial Treasury will assist in this regard.
Western Cape Provincial Treasury has also made an amount of R2.461 million available to assist with amongst others the development of a long term financial plan (recovery plan and revenue enhancement), the establishment of a risk management unit and the automation of internal audit services. This will further support the work being done by the financial advisor, Mr Shepherd appointed under the auspices of the Municipal Financial Improvement Programme by the National Treasury.
The normalising of operations at the Cango Caves and the process towards finding a permanent management arrangement for the Cango Caves is proceeding well. The Acting Manager, Alisson Moos reports directly to the Administrator, Mr. Chetty. A committee, chaired by the Administrator, has also been established to oversee the activities of the Cango Caves. Both the Provincial Department of the Cultural Affairs and Sport and the Department of Local Government has representation on the Committee which is also strengthened by the support of a local heritage specialist, Professor Francois Hanekom.
The Committee has to date facilitated public participation to generate ideas in respect of the future of the Cango Caves. These ideas will now be incorporated into a discussion paper which will be going out for public comment towards the end of the first week in November. At the same time, a specialist lawyer will be appointed to look at the articles of association of the envisaged public entity which we hope to finalize by the end of January.
While we realize that there are many challenges at Oudtshoorn Municipality, we are confident that the systems and processes currently being put in place will improve financial governance.
Western Cape Minister of Finance, Dr Ivan Meyer
Administrator: Oudtshoorn Municipality: Mr Kam Chetty