Cash-strapped Mangaung forfeited over R400m

Mangaung Metro Municipality Photo: Pierce van Heerden

The troubled Bloemfontein-based Mangaung Metro Municipality in the Free State forfeited over R400 million of the national conditional grant meant for much-needed service delivery.

In 2020, the National Treasury is said to have withheld grant funding of R429 million due to underspending. The Auditor-General (AG), Tsakani Maluleke, in her report says Treasury’s action was a result of the delays by the metro in completing grant-funded projects.

Maluleke says the withdrawal of the conditional grant put further strain on the metro’s financial health and also had a negative impact on service delivery. This revelation by Maluleke comes after the cash-strapped metro on two occasions failed to adopt and pass its 2022/23 budget due to non-compliance.

The metro is the only metro municipality that adopted the unfunded budget for the year 2018/19 and 2019/20.

In April, the Cabinet stripped the Metro’s council of its executive powers and placed it under administration after the municipality failed to make progress in improving its financial and service delivery performance.

The National Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, during President Cyril Ramaphosa’s presidential Imbizo held in Mangaung, described the Metro as a “messed up” municipality.

The National Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, also announced that he had requested a forensic audit report of the controversial multimillion-rand Integrated Public Transport Network (IPTN) Hauweng project.

The announcement follows stringent allegations of massive fraud and corruption in the project with further allegations that ten buses were procured through a lease contract and facilitation process that involved a middle man who scored a facilitation fee of about R20 million.

Maluleke said in her 84-page report that the Metro Municipality’s road and water network infrastructure deteriorated because the ailing Metro, amongst others, failed to properly spend its infrastructure budget accordingly. In Maluleke’s damning report on the Mangaung Metro Municipality, she said the municipality spent less than 2% of its infrastructure budget on repairs and maintenance.