Dr Ruth SM District Municipality ducks and dives around the truth on R38 million ‘shack call centre’

Issued by Freddy Sonakile MPL – DA North West Provincial Spokesperson on Public Accounts
15 Nov 2023 in Press Statements

Note to Broadcasters: Please find attached soundbites in English and Sesotho by Freddy Sonakile.

The Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati District Municipality briefly appeared before the North West Legislature’s Public Accounts Committee to account for the R38 million ‘shack call centre’ contract yesterday, after failing to appear last Friday.

It is regrettable that the Dr Ruth SM District Municipality presented an incomplete report to the Public Accounts Committee.

The municipality selectively responded to questions the committee sent before the scheduled appearance and withheld important information hiding behind the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA). It failed to produce copies of all bid documents claiming that Auditor-General (AG) took possession of these for the 2022/23 audit.

We do not know what is more worrying, that the municipality is unable to maintain its own records or whether there is a deliberate attempt to sweep this corrupt project under the carpet. Blaming the Auditor-General and hiding behind POPIA are desperate attempts at evading accountability.

What is evident from yesterday’s engagement with the Dr Ruth SM District Municipality is that:

• The call centre was not budgeted for;

• The previous Council apparently resolved to build a ‘call centre’ in the 2016/17 financial year. We could not get an explanation as to why a previous Council’s resolution was implemented five years later, without the current duly elected Council’s consideration; and,

• There is a possible conflict of interest with members of the Bid Committee.

The DA requested the Public Accounts Committee Chairperson, Aron Motswana MPL, to subpoena all documents related to the R38 million call centre from the municipality in line with the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act.

We note Mayor Sense Maje undertaking to submit documents within seven days and to initiate an investigation into this debacle.

The fact remains that the Dr Ruth SM District Municipality chose to spend millions on this useless call centre, residents in Christiana, Schweizer-Reneke, Bloemhof, Taung and Vryburg continue to suffer chronic water shortages and persistent problems with sanitation services.

The DA has already requested the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) to investigate this contract and once we have obtained all the relevant documents through the Public Accounts Committee, we will also submit these to support the investigation.