Durban 100512 Top Gear track Pic Terry Haywood

Durban - Despite recent criticism from opposition parties about the state of eThekwini’s finances, members of the KwaZulu-Natal legislature’s committees on finance and co-operative governance gave the city a “sterling report”.

This year, the ANC-led municipality has lurched from one financial controversy to another and it has also been shaken by the controversial Manase and Associates forensic investigation report, which uncovered non-compliance with, and disregard for, supply-chain management policies, and evidence of corruption and fraud by certain employees in collusion with suppliers, among a host of issues.

Although an abridged version of the Manase report was released in February, the full report is still being withheld from the public until all “internal disciplinary processes” have been finalised.

Citing a recent article that eThekwini had underspent by R2 billion and its housing budget was underspent by 45 percent in the 2010/11 financial year, the ANC MPLs criticised DA MPL George Mari and the media of “distorting the truth”.

Finance portfolio committee chairwoman Belinda Scott said the findings of her committee and co-operative governance were that the negativity surrounding eThekwini was “grossly unfounded”.

“… The national Treasury official directly responsible for the oversight of the eThekwini municipality delivered a glowing report on the municipality’s financial sustainability and viability,” she said.

Scott said the national Treasury had also stated that eThekwini topped the list in the country when it came to compliance with Treasury regulations.

She said the treasury was satisfied with the steps taken by the city to reduce irregular expenditure and the municipality clarified the R1.3bn irregular expenditure incurred for the 2010/11 financial year.

“An amount of R2.023bn relating to eThekwini’s current and prior irregular expenditure was condoned by council… Thus this irregular expenditure could not have been unlawful or wasteful,” she said.

Scott also said that irregular expenditure had been radically reduced in the 2011/12 financial year to R489 million.

“Not one provincial department does not incur irregular expenditure. It is the nature of business… The DA speaks about massive backlogs in housing, but it’s 20 percent not 45 percent,” she added.

ANC MPL Sboniso Duma, who was representing the co-operative governance chairman, would not entertain any questions about the Manase report and its release to the public.

He said when people like Mari “distort information, then the public consumes wrong information”.

Deputy mayor Nomvizo Shabalala said there was no secrecy about the Manase report and the matter was being managed in such a way that in the end “ratepayers will be happy” about the outcome of the process. - The Mercury