Acting Municipal Manager files complaints under the MFMA
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Drewan Baird. Oudtshoorn. 29 August 2013. 13h20. The Acting Municipal Manager, Ron Lottering, yesterday brought criminal complaints against DA Councillor Chris MacPherson.
In an official letter dated 22 August 2013, Lottering requested the consultant to the acting CFO, Roland Butler, to prepare a sworn affidavit itemising reasons actual and surmised for the failure of the Council to comply with section 23 of the Local Government: Municipal Finance Management Act, No. 56 of 2003 (MFMA) by 30 June 2013. Butler was instructed to speak in his affidavit to any and all relevant facts preceding Council’s eventual failure to comply with the afore-mentioned section 23 of the MFMA.
Section 23 of the MFMA states as follows:
Consultations on tabled budgets
(1) When the annual budget has been tabled, the municipal council must consider any views of-
(a) the local community; and
(b) the National Treasury, the relevant provincial treasury and any provincial or national organs of state or municipalities which made submissions on the budget.
(2) After considering all budget submissions, the council must give the mayor an opportunity-
(a) to respond to the submissions; and
(b) if necessary, to revise the budget and table amendments for consideration by the council.
(3) The National Treasury may issue guidelines on the manner in which municipal councils should process their annual budgets, including guidelines on the formation of a committee of the council to consider the budget and to hold public hearings.
(4) No guidelines issued in terms of subsection (3) are binding on a municipal council unless adopted by the council.
Lottering says that compelling grounds exist for a criminal complaint against MacPherson under section 173(5)(f)(i) of the MFMA which reads as follows:
Section 173(5): A councillor, an official of a municipality or municipal entity, a member of the board of directors of a municipal entity or any other person is guilty of an offence if that person deliberately or in a grossly negligent way-
(e) ….; or
(f) provides false or misleading information for the purposes of any document which must in terms of a requirement of this Act be-
(i) submitted to the council, mayor or accounting officer of a municipality or to the Auditor-General or the National Treasury; or
MacPherson’s conduct at the Special Council meeting of 14 June 2013 in providing the spurious grounds as to why the budget could not be approved were false and misleading, says Lottering.
“They were raised as part of a reckless strategy by the DA / COPE Alliance to prevent the Council from fulfilling its statutory obligations to approve the budget by the deadline date of 1 July 2013.”
This, according to Lottering, provided unjustified grounds for the DA led Western Cape Government to intervene in terms of section 139(4) of the Constitution and foist a Temporary Budget onto the Oudtshoorn Municipal which inter alia:
* was not subject to senior review;
* contained accounting errors;
* in certain respects did not comply with statutory requirements in that it was significantly lower in comparison to the budget that was to be tabled at the Council;
* was problematic as regards budget control;
* caused extreme difficulties in the submission of monthly and quarterly reporting on budget performance in the prescribed formats;
* could not enforce the approved Nersa electricity tariffs from 1 July 2013; and
* caused disruption of the administration.
The so-called temporary budget was in fact a new budget devised by the Western Cape Provincial Treasury and was not submitted for scrutiny to National Treasury. It was not published for public comment and possible submissions and reservations. The legal validity of this temporary budget is highly questionable.
“For any Municipality not to comply with section 23 of the MFMA is serious and entails severe consequences which are hardly in the interest of the public. MacPherson’s conduct was the direct cause of the imposed handicap,” said Lottering.