[dropcap]J[/dropcap]ohannesburg finance MMC Rabelani Dagada has promised that the city’s notoriously problematic billing system will be fixed by March 2018.
In a wide-ranging podcast interview with TechCentral on Tuesday, Dagada — an academic and Democratic Alliance politician who was appointed the position last year following South Africa’s municipal elections — said the new administration had expected to resolve the problems within the first three to six months of taking over.
“Obviously, we were wrong,” he said.
He now expects the system to be “stabilised” by March next year.
Dagada said the administration has identified four major issues that have to be dealt with to get the billing system back on even keel.
The biggest problem is that the city’s billing database is a mess. This dates all the way back to the turn of the century when more than a dozen councils were merged to created the metro.
“When they brought in new technology, they didn’t cleanse the data,” he said in the podcast. “Later, the city implemented SAP, again without cleansing the data.”
When the DA-led administration took over last year, the city was again about to implement SAP from scratch, but was failing again to clean up the database. “We stopped that, and until now have been cleansing the data.”
The city has contracted an external company to help with this process. Among other things, it’s conducting a physical audit of meters across the city, Dagada added.
The second big problem, he said, is that the SAP system has been “configured so many times that even some SAP people can’t recognise it as SAP”.
“Because of that, we said, as the political leadership, you are not going to upgrade SAP; you are going to re-implement SAP.”
A third problem is related to processes, with different components of the city — property management and City Power, for example — not communicating with each other. “The value chain is broken.”
Lastly, fraud and corruption has become endemic. “It’s shocking,” Dagada said.
“We have so many people who have been through disciplinary hearings. But the mayor (Herman Mashaba) is very strict: he says nobody should be suspended for more than three months. Cases must be concluded within three months. We have also opened several criminal cases to deal with fraud and corruption.” — (c) 2017 NewsCentral Media
- Listen to the podcast interview with Rabelani Dagada