Madonsela slams 'slow' municipality

Johannesburg - The Ngwathe local municipality in the Free State and its former manager acted improperly by not paying a service provider for his work, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has found.

"The complainant did the work he was supposed to and I find the conduct of the municipality to be improper and amounts to maladministration," she told reporters in Pretoria on Wednesday.

"I've directed that he be paid within 30 days."

Madonsela referred to the complainant as "Mr X". She explained the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) required suppliers to be paid within 30 days of invoicing.

Mr X had completed the electrification of 226 stands in Heilbron, in accordance with an agreement with the municipality. He submitted an invoice in January 2008.

"The complainant did not receive confirmation from the municipality on the payment of his invoice," Madonsela said in her finding.

After numerous attempts to obtain clarity on the payment delay, Mr X received a letter from the municipality in May 2011. It indicated his claim was being verified and the process would be finalised in February 2011.

He received no payment that month and lodged a complaint with the protector. Madonsela found that former municipal manager Norman Selai failed to comply with the MFMA.

His conduct was improper and amounted maladministration, said Madonsela.

"The municipal manager did not attend to the verification of the invoice for more than four years and this constituted undue delay and non-compliance."

Mr X was prejudiced, she said.

Selai failed to co-operate with the Public Protector's investigation.

"My office too struggled to get answers," she said.

"All we have are contract documents and the certificate from the supervising engineer appointed by the municipality confirming that he had done work worthy of the invoice he issued."

She recommended a letter of apology be issued within a month to Mr X for the prejudice he suffered, and that he be paid in full within one month, with interest calculated from the day the invoice was submitted.

She recommended an investigation into Selai's alleged financial misconduct and the possibility of instituting disciplinary action against him, if warranted.

- Sapa

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