The ink on their oaths of office had scarcely dried when it emerged that the dominant party in the eThekwini Metro Council intended to scrap its finance and procurement committee.

If it was not Mayor Zandile Gumede's first act in office, it certainly was her biggest. Here was an oversight panel, so crucial nowadays because of the abuse of public funds, changed to a sub-committee of the council's Executive Committee (Exco).

This effectively meant that only those on Exco – the ANC, DA and IFP – would be able to scrutinise tenders and finances. The smaller parties that once helped with this specialised and enormous task were out of it.

Not that the ANC, DA and IFP councillors are not up to it. But the move shreds a desirable sense of democratic inclusivity, and dismisses the trusty principle of "the more eyes, the better". It is probable that other scrutineers will find unseen points of interest.

Gumede argued otherwise: on her direct watch, and with daily attention, the vigilance on finances would increase.

Given her demanding portfolio, however, it cannot be undivided attention. The question is whether she is taking on too much. It seems so.

Another worth raising: will the news media have access to the work of that sub-committee – as we had with the dumped committee?

Opposition councillors were quick to air suspicions of skulduggery, of hiding theft. Given the extent of graft involving state funds, their alarm was justified. Shutting public scrutiny, barring the press, would worsen these fears.

Gumede has taken personal responsibility for clean governance in a multibillion-rand concern, a mammoth task. The buck stops with her.

Opposition councillors have railed against the move, so they will be more watchful than ever, ready to bring up that buck. Let us see how it goes.