23 October 2023
SAMWU DEMANDS AN END TO THE TENDERING SYSTEM IN NORTH WEST MUNICIPALITIES
The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) in the North West Province is deeply troubled by the pervasive fraud and corruption within the municipalities of the province. A significant portion of this corruption is intertwined with the tendering system. We strongly believe that the tendering system, instead of aiding municipalities in efficiently delivering services, has become a breeding ground for individuals seeking to exploit municipal resources. This situation poses a severe threat to service delivery in the province and has the potential to lead to its collapse.
During the weekend, we were deeply troubled to learn of the widespread fraud and corruption within the Ratlou Local Municipality. Shockingly, the municipality paid over R2 million for the installation of defective water tanks, R4 million for a road and R3 million for a stadium, both of which exist only on paper. Furthermore, the municipality paid a staggering R12,000 for a water pump that ordinarily costs R400, marking up the price by an astounding 300%. This case is just one among many examples of rampant fraud and corruption within the municipality, where unscrupulous individuals continue to siphon off municipal resources for their own gain. Earlier this year, the municipality’s former Acting Municipal Manager was implicated in a trial for tender irregularities amounting to R7.8 million. The situation is alarming, and decisive action is imperative to curb this corruption.
These revelations are even more troubling when considered alongside recent developments, such as the announcement by the Hawks regarding the arrest of two senior employees from the Bojanala District Municipality. These individuals are implicated in corruption involving a staggering R134 million, and they were also responsible for procuring two laptops at an exorbitant cost of R1 million each. These incidents underscore the pervasive nature of corruption within our municipal institutions and the urgent need for effective intervention to root out such malpractice.
SAMWU’s extensive experience in municipalities has revealed a disturbing trend: the tendering system has created a fertile ground for unscrupulous government officials and politicians to amass personal wealth at the expense of essential municipal resources, which should be dedicated to delivering basic services to the province’s residents. Many instances of fraud and corruption have come to light where senior municipal leaders exploit their positions to compel employees to execute decisions that are illegal and contravene the Municipal Finance Management, Supply Chain, and Procurement Procedures. Out of fear of retribution, workers reluctantly follow these directives, while these senior officials exploit the fact that they can claim plausible deniability for their actions. We strongly advise our members and all workers not to succumb to pressure to execute illegal instructions. Instead, they should turn to the Union for assistance when faced with such situations. This approach will empower workers to uphold ethical standards and safeguard the interests of their communities.
SAMWU is deeply committed to fostering a culture of ethics and accountability within municipalities. Furthermore, we consider it our duty to protect our members when they become unwitting participants in schemes orchestrated by those who exploit municipal resources. Workers in municipalities across the province have directly experienced the fallout of fraud and corruption. This often results in delayed salary payments for municipal employees, while third-party service providers are left owed for months.
It is important extend protection to municipal workers who bravely expose cases of fraud and corruption in their workplaces. Regrettably, history has shown that when municipal workers blow the whistle on such activities, they are often subjected to victimization, wrongful dismissals, and, in the most harrowing of circumstances, physical harm or even assassination. These heinous acts have created a climate of fear, dissuading municipal workers from reporting unethical behaviour when they encounter it. This is a deeply troubling issue that needs to be urgently addressed to encourage a culture of transparency, integrity, and accountability in our municipalities.
As residents of these municipalities, we have witnessed the detrimental effects of fraud and corruption on our local government. The pervasive fraud and corruption have contributed to a concerning decline in the state of our municipalities in the province. Consequently, these municipalities have been rendered increasingly incapable of fulfilling their constitutional mandate to provide quality services to residents.
The Union, therefore, urges law enforcement agencies to exhaust all avenues in their pursuit of those involved in defrauding municipalities. It is essential that decisive action is taken by law enforcement to bring an end to this culture of impunity, which allows the continued plundering of municipalities.
Furthermore, SAMWU firmly calls for an end of the tendering system within municipalities. The current tendering system has proven ineffective and does not contribute to the efficient delivery of services. Instead, it has become a means for Tenderpreneurs to exploit the system, inflating the cost of service delivery, while mistreating their employees who receive minimal compensation and lack job security. It is deeply troubling that numerous municipalities have opted to use the tendering system to provide services even when they have permanent municipal workers directly employed to perform these tasks.
Issued by SAMWU North West Province
(083 580 8815)
Deputy Provincial Secretary
(082 526 5224)