Tighter rules against municipal graftDate Released: Mon, 22 September 2014 11:45 +0200
The government has introduced measures to ensure that there is national and provincial oversight over the process of investigating and disciplining senior municipal officials and councillors who are suspected of financial misconduct or criminal activities.
The regulations, which will ensure follow-through on allegations against officials and councillors and that whistle-blowers are protected, were published in the Government Gazette last week.
This is one of several efforts by the government to root out corruption in municipalities and exercise greater control over their finances.
Regulations were also promulgated recently which cap the salaries of top municipal officials and compel competency tests for all new appointments to stop widespread nepotism in local government.
The latest regulations under the Municipal Finance Management Act aim to ensure that action is taken against officials and councillors suspected of wrongdoing.
Public Service Accountability Monitor director Jay Krause said on Thursday that the government measures were "long overdue".
He said there was a lack of political will to follow through on allegations of wrongdoing.
They were not investigated, or disciplinary measures were not implemented, and corrupt officials continued in their jobs, he said.
The regulations make it obligatory to act.
They deal with how allegations of financial misconduct should be dealt with, and how disciplinary proceedings should be conducted.
The regulations — drawn up by the Treasury and the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs — stipulate that where municipalities fail to investigate allegations of financial misconduct against senior financial officials, the Treasury at national or provincial levels will be empowered to force them to do so.
All allegations of financial irregularities against an accounting officer, senior manager or the chief financial officer of a municipality must be reported to the municipal council and to the provincial treasury and the Treasury.
If a municipal council or board of directors of a municipal entity fail to act on recommendations by a disciplinary board that the allegation of financial misconduct is well-founded and sufficient grounds exist to warrant a full investigation, then the disciplinary board may request the provincial treasury or the National Treasury for assistance.
The same applies if disciplinary steps are not implemented.
"Where the alleged transgressor is found guilty of financial misconduct after the disciplinary proceedings, he or she may not be re-employed in any municipality for a period of 10 years as provided in section 57A(3) of the Municipal Systems Act," the regulations state.
Substantiated financial offences in local government will have to be reported to the police.
The ministers of finance and co-operative governance, and their provincial MEC counterparts must be informed of the outcome of investigations of councillors in breach of their code of conduct.
Another set of regulations has been gazetted which prescribes how municipalities should manage and report on their financial affairs.
Newspaper: Business Day
Date: 6 June 2014