But the Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba, said that there has been a definite improvement and more will be revealed before the budget speech later this month.
Asked in the media briefing after his speech why there was no mention of the crisis, the mayor said there has been a definite improvement in billing challenges in recent months.
“It is not where we would like it to be. But without any doubt, billing challenges are not as bad as they were a year or six months ago and the MMC is employing the right candidates in the finance department,” the mayor said.
Mashaba also revealed that the level of corruption in the finance department was the highest of all departments. A report by the Group Forensic and Investigation Services (GFIS) shows that most arrests and terminations are in the finance department. The mayor also alluded to the former Finance MMC, Dr Rabelani Dagada, saying he cannot determine the integrity even of his MMCs beforehand.
He was removed as MMC by Mashaba, who shortly thereafter issued a statement alleging corruption, nepotism, price fixing and the victimisation of some City officials on the part of Dagada. More than a month later, Dagada fired back in a statement. The former MMC alleges that since July last year, there have been unrelenting efforts by the mayor to remove him from the Mayoral Committee. Dagada has recently been seen in council again, seated as a PR councillor.
Mashaba said he appointed Funzela Ngobeni as the new Finance MMC and he is working around the clock and has the mandate to end corruption amongst officials.
Ngobeni said there are interventions in the City’s value chains and property units to ensure that billing processes have no interruptions. “We are also doing data cleaning that will help us to do correct billing. We will make announcements in the next week or two that will outline some of the processes that have been put in place to address this.”
One of the key factors affecting the billing crisis are the people, Ngobeni said.
“We are aware that we need to improve the customer service residents get when they go to customer service centres. We are working with executives to increase the staff morale with employees that work directly with customers.”
Last year, the mayor initiated billing open days to help deal with the crisis. Only one day ever happened, with other days no longer on the cards. This is because the City said it is reevaluating the need for more of these days. After postponing the instalment of the open day in September, firstly, because of a work stoppage by department employees, seemingly in solidarity with their colleagues who were arrested on grounds of fraud, theft and corruption, halted this. Since then, the way the
City will attempt to sort out its infamous billing crisis has changed.
Former acting group CFO, Lufuno Mashau, earlier this year said the open days cost more and took a lot of resources to organise. It was not only costly, he said, but interrupted normal service delivery and the City’s IT infrastructure had to be moved around.