The cash-strapped municipality spent the amount on consultants in the 2019/20 financial year. Picture: Facebook
The cash-strapped municipality spent the amount on consultants in the 2019/20 financial year. Picture: Facebook

Municipality paying hefty price for failing to fill vacancies

By Thami Magubane Time of article published Oct 9, 2020

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Durban - PARALYSING staff shortages are taking a toll on the Msunduzi municipality’s finances as the council spent R183 million hiring consultants to do the work that should have been done by its own employees.

The cash-strapped municipality spent the amount on consultants in the 2019/20 financial year.

Administrator Scelo Duma urged the council recently to fill vacancies and reduce the reliance on consultants.

In a report tabled recently, Duma revealed the shortages, including in units that generate revenue.

Based on the organogram drafted in 2013, which the council has been urged to update, there were about 3 000 vacancies. The council should have about 6 000 full-time staff.

A unit that is responsible for water, electricity and other commercial revenue-generating functions had a vacancy rate of about 57%.

The report said there should be a “reduction in consultants, by creating internal capacity and filling critical vacancies”.

“In 2019/20, the municipality spent R183 393 979 on consultants. There is no doubt that the municipality relies heavily on consultants for activities that could possibly be in-sourced.

“The Internal Audit Unit, Budget and Treasury Office, Infrastructure Services and Legal Services can be weaned from this over-reliance on consultants by building internal capacity,” it said.

It said measures should be put in place to reduce the municipality’s reliance on consultants over a period of at least three years.

The report also said that council should look at the reduction in legal fees by increasing internal capacity, and fill critical vacancies which will result in a reduction in acting allowances.

The report said there had been positives in cost reduction in the month of September, as the overtime budget was reduced drastically by 60%.

ACDP councillor Rienus Niemand said: “Training and development and retention strategies must be implemented.

“The market has more than enough qualified and experienced people to offer.

“The ANC-led municipality follows a cadre deployment strategy that has failed repeatedly because of a lack of qualified comrades and no accountability.

“The ACDP demands a cessation of the waste and the implementation of simple business principles,” he said.

DA councillor Sibongiseni Majola said the revelations were a clear indication that the interventions by the municipality were failing.

“We are told there is a shortage of staff, there is a vacancy rate of about 55%, even worse, the organogram that speaks to that vacancy rate is outdated.

“As long as we continue like this we are going to continue to rely on consultants.

“We need to fill these positions with qualified individuals who speak to the challenges the municipality is facing,” Majola said.

The Mercury

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