Big salaries drain public funds

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Durban - The managers of five KwaZulu-Natal municipalities that have been placed under administration for poor performance continue to draw their R900 000-a-year salaries - much to the chagrin of the DA, who called it a “flagrant abuse of public funds”.

However, the Department of Co-operative Governance, in a written provincial parliamentary reply to the DA’s George Mari, said there was nothing untoward with municipal managers collecting their salaries as they continued to “exercise functions and powers assigned to them”.

According to the department, five municipalities, Indaka, Mtubatuba, Abaqulusi, Umvoti and Imbabazane, have been placed under administration and are being run by department-appointed administrators who each a earn monthly salary package of R135 188.

All five administration contracts are due to expire at the end of September. Some have been running the failed municipalities since 2012.

The department said that since the administrators took over the municipalities, performances had improved substantially.

But the DA said the fact that the municipal managers who were now having their work done for them by the administrators and continued to earn “hugely inflated salaries” were a concern.

“We expect the MEC to review the employment contracts of these municipal managers. It is unacceptable that they should continue to earn fat cat salaries when they have allowed their municipalities to become dysfunctional to the point where they have to be run by the province,” Mari said.

“While the DA notes some of the improvements made within these entities, there can be no place for managers who are not fit for purpose and lack the skills to do the job - too much depends on it and it is ultimately the communities that suffer most.”

Binding

The department said, however, that the municipal managers were employed as accounting officers and had binding contracts with their employers.

“Administrators have specific terms of references based only on the powers assumed by the executive council, and cannot discharge other functions of accounting officers. Administrators drive implementation of recovery plans while accounting officers discharge functions of accounting officers subject to ratification of administrators,” MEC for Co-operative Governance Nomusa Dube-Ncube said.

The revelations come just days after the auditor-general’s report found that only seven - Uthungulu, Msinga, Ntambanana, Okhahlamba, Ubuhlebezwe, uMhlathuze and uMzimkhulu - of KZN’s 61 municipalities received a clean audit.

Four municipal entities, Durban Marine Theme Park, Safe City Pietermaritzburg, uThungulu House Development Trust, and uThungulu Financing Partnership, were also given clean audits, with Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu noting an overall improvement in the KZN municipal audit outcomes.

Makwetu said the improvement in the audit outcomes was due to a commitment displayed by both political and administrative leadership, together with oversight role-players, to monitor progress on action plans to address audit findings.

The auditor-general had also found that overall, irregular expenditure at the province’s municipalities and municipal entities had increased by 14 percent.

This represented an increase from R1.56 million irregular expenditure in 2011/12 to that totalling R1.78m in the year under review (2012/13).

Nomusa Dube-Ncube last week said that along with the seven clean audits, many other municipalities had seen a reduction in audit queries.

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