TROUBLED municipalities already spent a whopping R1.26-billion on independent consultants but still failed to achieve clean audits.
The poor financial management performance of municipalities this week raised the ire of parliament’s chairperson of the select committee on cooperative governance and traditional affairs, water and sanitation and human settlements China Dodovu.
“There is a serious problem here. Are we going to sit with the Auditor-General again next year and raise the very same problems if there is no concomitant action taken against anybody who is responsible for the financial mess in the municipalities?” he asked.
“Last year, the same problems were raised, and amongst them is the deteriorating accountability and lack of consequence management, a point that is highlighted today. If we don’t put a stop to this, next year we are going to face the same problems,” Dodovu said.
The committee heard that of the 183 municipalities that sought consulting services, only 15 achieved clean audits. Dodovu called for clear consequence management in errant municipalities with a negative audit outcome for the 2018/19 financial year. Dodovu raised this opinion following the local government audit outcomes briefing by the Office of the Auditor-General to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Wednesday.
He further said that without concomitant action, the audit outcomes will not improve in the near future, something that has a direct negative impact on the ability of the municipalities to deliver quality services to the people.
Dodovu went on further to highlight that in most municipalities that are under administration through section 139 of the Constitution, the situation continues to deteriorate despite the interventions.
As a result, he called for the Auditor-General to utilise the prescripts of the Public Audit Amendment Act in all errant municipalities and not only nine municipalities as suggested by the Auditor-General.
Dodovu also criticised the continued use of consultants by municipalities, especially those under administration.
“This means that we are paying for administrators and the group of skilled staff they bring in, as well as for consultants, but we are not getting value for the money invested. This can be brought to an end effective and speedy consequence management,” he said.
During the presentation, it was highlighted that of the 257 municipalities audited, only 20 received a clean audit. There has been a slight increase from the 18 clean audits reported in the previous financial year.
Presenting the outcomes on behalf of Auditor General Kimi Makwetu, Deputy Auditor General Tsakani Maluleke condemned the use of consultants by municipalities for financial reporting services because they do not yield any fruits. “In total, R1.26-billion was paid to consultants. Of the 183 municipalities that sought consulting services, only 15 achieved clean audits,” Maluleke said.
The Select Committee will urgently meet and discuss the report and will make recommendations to the NCOP as a way of finding solutions to the continuing worrying trend of negative audits.
(Compiled by Inside Politics staff)