Cape Town - The provincial Department of Local Government has welcomed the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) report on audit outcomes for municipalities in the province.
Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell said: “Overall we are pleased to note that 26 out of the 30 municipalities in the province received unqualified audit opinions. Of those 26, a total of 12 councils also achieved the clean audit status.”
“We have come a long way if one recalls that in 2009 there were no clean audits in the province,” said Bredell.
He said councils were increasingly struggling with severe ongoing financial constraints due to the country's economic challenges.
“Despite this situation, we note that the AGSA found not a single council in the province owed Eskom a cent for the period under review (2017/18) and in addition only a single council in the Western Cape was considered to be financially vulnerable. With regards to the few areas of regression, we take note of them and we are already addressing the problem areas.”
However, the ANC Local Government spokesperson Danville Smith took a very different view of the auditor-general’s overview and said: “It is shocking to find that the number of municipalities that received clean audits dropped from 77% in 2015/16 to 40% in 2017/18.
“The ANC remains deeply concerned about the state of municipalities in the Western Cape as far too many - less than half or only 12 - of the 30 local government institutions in the province this year could comply with regulations to receive full clean audits from the auditor-general.”
Bredell argued that the difference between a clean and unqualified audit was often a technical issue which could include late submission of paperwork or the incorrect or incomplete classification of transactions. “This was also the first year that councils had to adhere to a new compliance measure which presented some challenges.”
Bredell said the province was already in the process of taking action to address the shortcomings highlighted by the auditor-general and he said these included “co-ordinating a process province-wide, compiling support plans for each municipality to address short-, medium- and long-term challenges of which addressing audit findings and getting the Provincial Treasury to assist municipalities to develop audit action plans to address audit findings”.
The results for the Western Cape were as follows:
Clean audit: Bergrivier, Breede Valley, Cape Agulhas Cape Winelands, Cederberg, Hessequa, Matzikama, Overberg District, Overstrand,Swellendam, West Coast District and Witzenberg.
Unqualified audit: Bitou, Central Karoo, City of Cape Town, Drakenstein, Garden Route, Knysna, Langeberg, Mossel Bay, Prins Albert, Saldanha Bay, Stellenbosch, Swartland, Theewaterskloof and Kannaland.
Qualified audit: Beaufort-West, Oudtshoorn, George and Laingsburg.
Smith said: “We are deeply concerned that some of these municipalities might end up not having enough money to pay salaries of staff or keep basic services running.”