Newly appointed Greater Letaba Municipal Manager, Khathutshelo Sirovha has promised to turn around the Limpopo municipality, improve service delivery and receive unqualified audit report within three years.
He says if the municipality’s financial management does not improve under his watch, he and his Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Florence Mankgabe will resign and make way for other officials because they would have failed the people of Letaba.
Greater Letaba has been most recently marred by a R1 million scandal, exposed by African Times, involving the irregular payment of a company linked to former Mopani ANC Youth League leader (ANCYL) regional secretary Thulani Twala for services not rendered, amongst others.
Speaking to African Times from his new offices in ModjadjisKloof this week, Sirovha – who has recently graduated with a PHD in Public Administration and signed a five year contract with the municipality – pledged to improve service delivery in the rural municipality.
“I have said in the public participation processes that if we still have an unqualified audit opinion in three years I will resign. I have also put the CFO’s future in this municipality on the line by asking her to promise in the presence of council that she would resign with me if there is no improvement in the municipal’s audit and she agreed,” he said.
Greater Letaba is among the poorest municipalities in the country. According to Statistics South Africa, only 36% of the municipality’s residents have formal jobs while 21% survive on social grants. The retail trade and wholesale sectors are its main economic drivers. The municipality contributed 11.9% towards the economy of Mopani District Municipality, which in turn contributed 18.2% towards the Limpopo Provincial economy in 2016.
The confident Sirovha said that he had also told the mayor that there would be no need for him to see out his five year contract if he does not meet his targets in three years as there would be nothing he could do in the last two years that he failed to achieve in the first three.
He says that he advised the mayor to fire all the directors that would have been working with him because they would have also failed the municipality to reach its goals.
Mankgane and Head of Corporate affairs Bertha Letsoalo were implicated in the R1 million irregular payment that rocked the municipality a few weeks ago. They have denied all wrong-doing.
Mayor Peter Matlou, who instructed former municipal manager Gloria Mashaba to lay criminal charges with the Hawks, says he will act against the culprits once his internal investigation has been finalised.
But Sirovha, who was head-hunted by the Matlou, believes that he will get to the bottom of the issue.
“We know what happened and this matter is now my own because I have been here for two months now and have to take the responsibility. There was a service level agreement signed between a company that was to render services to us and R1 million was paid to that company with money we got from the Provincial Treasury,” Sirovha said.
As part of investigating the matter, Sirovha said that in the last two months that he has been at the municipality, he has made sure that The Municipal Public Account Committee’s (MPAC) chairperson was appointed full time.
This was necessary to make sure the candidate would be part of meetings to resolve unauthorised and irregular expenditure, which he has identified as one of the biggest problems in the municipality.
“This way I’m able to meet the MPAC [Municipal Public Accounts Committee] chairperson anytime there is trouble and we ensure continuity. For example, we have met three times already with the chairperson. We are coming up with solutions to a lot of financial misconduct that has been happening in this municipality,” he said.
And the MPAC seems to have hit the ground running. In a letter seen by African Times, MPAC invited Sirovha and his management to account for mismanagement of funds.
“MPAC invites the Management team to a contact session to discuss unauthorised, Irregular, Fruitless and wasteful expenditure as identified by AGSA mainly on the 25 critical transactions in the audit report for 2016/17,” read the letter in part.
“Management is expected to give a presentation of each of the 25 critical transactions in the audit report on note. The presentation should flag from conception of the transaction to awarding of the transaction. Management is further advised to bring along a full portfolio of evidence per transaction.”
The letter summons Sirovha and his team to account to council and the committee in a form of a report explaining each transaction that happened in the last two years. The investigation commences today.
Sirovha said that if MPAC was not happy after the investigation, they would summon the people involved with the transactions to bring back the money to the municipality, as they would have been identified by the investigation.
“This brings confidence and sets a conviction to the community that we are not just any talk shop and that we should strive to get the improvement in the Auditor General’s report.”
Asked how he plans to improve the qualified audit report, Sirovha said that he was going to make sure that his directors perform.
“I have a system now already where every second week I sit with directors to monitor the performance and finances of each department, so that I am kept at par with the goings on in the municipality,” he said.