R200 discount for liking us on FB
Municipalities can expect to be leaned on to get their financial affairs in order, according to the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs ministry.
It described as a matter “of grave concern” the damning findings by the auditor-general, in which just 13 of 283 councils received a clean bill of health for the 2010/11 financial year.
Ministerial spokesman Nghamula Nkuna said “government views disclaimers, adverse and qualified audit opinions negatively” and such audit findings “cannot be accepted by any municipality as the norm”.
While the number of municipalities with clean audits has increased to 13 from seven and four in the previous two financial years respectively, the increase to 40 municipalities, from nine, which did not submit any financial statements was a concern, as was a less-than-desirable state of oversight by municipal political leaders and management and the “continued reliance on consultants, most of whom add no value” towards the institutional capacity.
Nkuna said municipal planning and procurement matters were crucial to get right.
“However, deliberate flouting of procurement policies has to be dealt with in terms of the law, by law enforcement agencies,” he said.
However, the SA Local Government Association (Salga) has come out in defence of municipalities, calling for “more examination and less exaggeration” by commentators.
“A biased picture of the virtual collapse of financial management in many local governments, including the major cities, is being painted,” said Salga chairman Thabo Manyoni.
Manyoni said “almost 50 percent” (128 of the 283) received unqualified audits, “meaning there are no financial irregularities and there is compliance with laws and regulations”.
Manyoni also referred to the decrease in irregular expenditure as a sign that financial management was not in crisis at municipal level.
In 2008 Salga commissioned a study which looked at the skills and education of councillors.
The study found that 32 percent of councillors had not completed matric.
Around 8 000 councillors were sent for adult education classes after it was discovered that they only had a primary school education.
The survey also found that between 67 and 86 percent of councillors needed some form of training to do their jobs. – Additional reporting Dianne Hawker - Sunday Independent