Cape Town – The number of fraud allegations has spiked at Western Cape municipalities in the 2019/2020 financial year.
Compared with 20 cases in the previous financial year, the Western Cape legislature oversight committee says the province had received 160 allegations of fraud at municipalities.
Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu, reporting on the 2018/19 local government audit results in July, said most of the municipalities with clean audits were in the Western Cape and Gauteng.
Out of the 257 municipalities in the country, only 20 were awarded clean audits, with more than R1 billion spent on consultants and over R32 billion in irregular expenditure.
According to Eda Barnard, chief director of Municipal Performance Monitoring and Support, and Department of Local Government head Graham Paulse, reports of fraud allegations rise closer to election periods. The local government elections are scheduled to take place between August and November 2021.
Oversight committee member Danville Smith, who is also the opposition ANC’s spokesperson on local government, doesn’t agree with this view, the Daily Maverick reported, saying the ’’dramatic increase in cases of fraud allegations reported to the department is shocking but not surprising’’.
“That is not the first nor the last time we hear that line. It is often repeated every time the DA finds its back against the wall. For instance, when service delivery protests increase, they use that line to say it’s engineered chaos.
“This has nothing to do with elections. There is rampant corruption in the Western Cape, and the government must investigate and take action against the culprits and stop hiding behind these claims of ‘election periods’.”
Municipal manager Trevor Botha, former mayor Melvin Naik and three other senior officials at the George municipality appeared at the George Magistrate’s Court on October 9 on charges of fraud, corruption and contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act.