Municipal debt collector Fikile Bili gave City Press pointers on how the government could stop corruption in local municipalities.
Bili, the CEO of Zandile Management Services, got into hot water after he blew the whistle and laid charges of corruption against the chief financial officer of Ditsobotla Local Municipality and eight ANC councillors who allegedly tried to extract bribes from him.
At the time, he was contracted to collect outstanding debt of R240 million for the municipality from residents. Bili secretly recorded a conversation during the process.
He’s lost business, and other municipalities have refused to hire him, saying he “tapes people”.
HERE ARE HIS TIPS:
. Appoint credible political leadership at provincial and regional level;
. Regional political leadership must stop appointing municipal managers and giving them a mandate, as that opens them up to corruption. That should rather be done by the minister of cooperative governance;
. Ensure that chief financial officers are appointed and get their mandate from the minister of finance, as some of them are influenced and forced to interfere in tenders out of fear of losing their jobs;
. Introduce different panels to interview and make appointments in other key positions;
. Professionalise municipal managers by bringing in academics who are often overlooked to lead local government;
. Ensure that credible councillors are elected and are vetted by looking at their qualifications, and criminal and credit records;
. Stop factionalism in councils. It often leads to serious fights between mayors and speakers or even chief whips, and they end up frustrating each other and hampering service delivery;
. Implement a system that will vet indigents to stop councillors from fraudulently rigging the process by registering people who are not qualified, with the sole purpose of getting finance from Treasury. The more indigents a municipality gets, the more allocation it receives from government and the more looting there is;
. Put an online tendering system in place across all municipalities to eliminate rigging;
. Involve the church and traditional leaders in local government; and
. Run government online by introducing a system whereby communities can log complaints online or at community centres.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Lucky Menoe from Corruption Watch has these five pointers:
. Report corruption when you see it happening – either to the Public Protector or to Corruption Watch, which then investigates and researches corruption;
. Speak up: Join the conversation about corruption on corruptionwatchconnected.org, and get support and advice from other members of the group;
. Monitor: Read your local municipality’s Integrated Development Plan so you know what should be delivered and by when so you can report it as it happens in corruption-prone spheres such as housing;
. Demand transparency and hold those in power to account; and
. Start with yourself: Be a person of integrity, obey the law and don’t bribe anyone to get out of trouble.