Msunduzi Municipality logo. PHOTO: Supplied
Msunduzi Municipality logo. PHOTO: Supplied

Msunduzi Municipality’s debt approaches ’crisis level’

By Thami Magubane Time of article published Jul 30, 2021

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The consumer debt is now standing at R5 billion.

Durban: The Msunduzi Municipality’s ballooning consumer debt is a strategic risk and a threat to the municipality’s viability.

That is the warning from the City’s audit committee which was contained in its report tabled before a full council meeting on Wednesday.

The consumer debt is now standing at R5 billion.

Councillors have repeatedly warned in the past that the debt was approaching a crisis level.

The audit committee report covered the state of the municipality over the past six months.

It looked at numerous aspects including the issue of high vacancy rate impacting on business units, the debt and the concerns that some business units in the municipality were not “taking seriously” matters raised by the audit committee.

Another concern included that some of the reports produced for council and committees were riddled with errors resulting in incorrect information being communicated publicly.

Chair of the audit committee Bronwyn Kemp told councillors the debt was a serious concern.

She described it as a “strategic risk for municipality and a threat to its financial viability”.

Due to the staff shortages, said the committee, the internal audit unit was being impacted negatively and the Audit Committee was not getting as many reports as they should from the unit.

The committee also had some positive feedback for senior management saying that the tone at the top (management) has changed and there would be positive changes once that filters down.

ACDP councillor Rienus Niemand said the overall report by the audit committee painted a picture of a municipality on its knees.

He said poor service delivery and the theft of services was crippling the city.

“We heard (from the committee) the term structural collapse, that is when the place is about to fall; it is the risk that we have reached. We have been under administration for two years, and it has done absolutely nothing for us,” said Niemand.

DA councillor Bill Lambert said the report was informative.

“We must take note of what we heard and make sure that we act on it.”

Municipal manager Madoda Khathide said the report had touched on a number of things that had been picked up in the year, confirming the weaknesses and the strengths.

It was also revealed that the municipality was in the process of filling vacancies. It said a new organogram drafted in 2020 showed that the council needed 12 000 workers. This is double the staff complement from the organogram developed in 2013.

It said it was carefully going through this process of writing up job descriptions in order to make sure that these are not challenged by individuals.

The Mercury

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