Marianne Merten

MUNICIPALITIES can expect to be leaned on to get their financial affairs in order, according to the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Ministry.

It described as a matter “of grave concern” the auditor-general’s findings, in which just 13 of 283 councils received a clean bill of health for 2010/11.

Ministerial spokesman Nghamula Nkuma said the government viewed disclaimers, adverse and qualified audit opinions negatively and these “cannot be accepted by any municipality as the norm”.

While the number of municipalities with clean audits has increased to 13 from seven and four in the previous two financial years respectively, the increase to 40 municipalities, from nine, which did not submit any financial statements was of concern.

Also worrying was a less than desirable state of oversight by municipal leaders and management and the “continued reliance on consultants, most of whom add no value” to the institutional capacity.

Nkuma said corrective measures were in place, including the secondment of experienced officials.