Umkhanyakude municipality in crisis with lack of leadership, political interference
Share this article:
DURBAN - UMKHANYAKUDE District Municipality in northern KwaZulu-Natal is in crisis.
Key positions are vacant, councillors have all but abandoned their jobs and political interference with the administration is rife.
These revelations are contained in a detailed report that municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi tabled before members of the provincial Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) portfolio committee.
The members were visiting the municipality to assess the state of the municipality following numerous reports that it was in a severe state of dysfunction.
The municipality is under administration but despite that, the situation has not improved.
In his report, Nkosi said, “Umkhanyakude is currently faced with challenges which include the lack of leadership and supervision, some caused by vacancies; inadequate skills on planning, budgeting, financial management, credit control, debt management, risk management and internal audit.”
There was also poor record keeping as there were missing and or unavailable supporting documents to support financial statements.
There are recurring and unresolved audit findings due to capacity and resources constraints and recurring negative audit opinions from the auditor-general.
He said there was a challenge in the implementation of continuous management reform due to political interference.
“There are blurred lines between politics and administration, which leads to the undermining of the accounting officer,” he said.
He said the chief financial officer (CFO) position being vacant was creating compliance challenges.
“The suspension, discipline and dismissal of the CFO, coupled with the appointment of the Acting CFO who refused to co-operate has meant no stability within the finance department and this has led to a number of non-compliance issues.”
He said the council was dysfunctional.
“Council meetings are not taking place. For the past six months, no effective meeting of the portfolio committees has occurred.
“Exco has only had one effective meeting, council has sat twice on March 11 and April 21 only to elect the new speaker.
“The internal audit has three members; all their terms of office have expired,” he said.
The report revealed that the ruling party had not participated in full council meetings. He said the party had missed at least four months of council meetings.
On service delivery, the report states that the municipality could face litigation from contractors that abandoned projects because they had not been paid.
DA member of the committee Chris Pappas said politically and administratively, the municipality had failed and should have been dissolved a long time ago.
He said the provision of water in the district fell under the municipality’s responsibility for 90% of the work yet 40% of the residents were without water.
He said in the past two months, eight attempts to get a special council meeting to sit had all failed because councillors did not attend.
Cogta MEC Sipho Hlomuka, while giving a status update on municipalities that are under administration last week, said the situation in uMkhanyakude was not improving.
“There is persistent political instability which is frequently collapsing council meetings,” he said.
“There are blurred lines between politics and administration which leads to undermining of the accounting officer.