How accurate are your facts, Mr Fuchs?

I noticed a recent online article about Mogale City’s finances with the heading Former Mogale officials rake in R1mil each despite not even working.

In the article, Alan Fuchs, the DA Constituency Head, is quoted as having said: “With each day, more evidence is mounting against the ANC’s maladministration. Irregular expenditure for the 2015/ 16 financial year amounted to R110 million – money which could have been better used to uplift the lives of residents.”

This struck me as strange. Could that figure be correct? If we look at the financial statements of Mogale City Municipality for the year ending 30 June 2016 (freely available to the public) we see the following definition of ‘irregular expenditure’:

“• 3.22 – Irregular expenditure – Irregular expenditure is expenditure that is contrary to the Municipal Finance Management Act (Act No. 56 of 2003); the Municipal Systems Act (Act No. 32 of 2000); the Public Office Bearers Act (Act No. 20 of 1998); or is in contravention of the Mogale City’s Supply Chain Management policy. Irregular expenditure excludes unauthorised expenditure.”

If we now turn to item 51 of the financial statements we see the statement that there was no irregular or unauthorised expenditure in the year under review:

“• 51. 2016 – Irregular Expenditure – There is no irregular expenditure during the year under review.

Unauthorised Expenditure – There is no unathorised expenditure during the year under review.”

Keep in mind that the financial statements were discussed in a council meeting and approved without the necessity to take a vote on the matter.

The statements do, however, reflect Fruitless Expenditure. This expenditure is explained in the Notes to the Annual Financial Statements.

So where does Fuchs get his figure of R110 million of irregular expenditure? He does not indicate where he found this figure which is in direct opposition to the official, and approved, statement by the Mogale City Municipality.

Does Mr Fuchs perhaps indulge in the custom of offering ‘alternative facts and truths’ like some prominent American politicians? If so, I would like to ask him to refrain from doing so, and to stick to good old-fashioned South African actual facts. I would also appreciate it if he would be so kind as to be more precise when he mentions figures and to back them up with believable source material.

* Alan Fuchs responds:

I sourced the information from a document that anyone with even a basic level of understanding would peruse, namely the audited financial statements of the Mogale City Municipality as audited by the Auditor General. In case Mr Venter once again wishes to question my credibility, I have included the extract in my response to the editor. So, the real question is where did Venter source his information? I would have thought that Venter, as a former councillor, would have done his homework and looked in the correct place.

Venter has my phone number, so, as a self-appointed truth policeman, if his real motive was to pursue the truth, he would have called me and asked his question. Instead he chose to go on a public relations exercise, write a public letter to the press and by innuendo, question my credibility. One has to wonder what his motive could be?

My questions are purely rhetorical, because I do not expect nor desire a response from Venter. I would prefer not to engage publicly with an individual who is clearly not motivated by goodwill and who, on the face of it, seeks to impugn the integrity of his former colleagues.

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