Parliament, Saturday, 09 November 2019 – The Select Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs is alarmed by noting that the Mogalakwena Local Municipality seems not to be taking the current governance challenges within the municipality serious something which, according to the committee, has a great potential of rendering the municipality in a perpetual crisis.
The committee met with five municipalities with the highest irregular expenditure in the 2017/2018 financial year. The committee’s concerns arise from the seeming indifference to the issues raised by the Auditor General in the municipal audit. Furthermore, the fact that the Municipal Public Accounts Committee is dysfunctional remains a cause for concern that must be built into the financial recovery plan. “Generally it cannot be business as usual when the municipality has incurred more than R1.7 billion in irregular and wasteful expenditure. As a result, the committee took a resolution to have a separate meeting with the municipality to address the challenges at Mogalakwena Local Municipality before the end of this term,” said Mr China Dodovu, the Chairperson of the committee.
Generally, with all municipalities, the committee has raised concerns on the lack of appetite for meaningful consequence management against those who are wrong. The committee has decried the initiation of more investigations even after reports by the Auditor General which provide clear proof of wrongdoing as per the prescripts of the Municipal Finance Management Act. These prolonged investigations, the committee said, cost the municipalities more money which should be directed to service delivery.
Regarding OR Tambo District Municipality, the committee criticised the writing off, of over R3.1 billion in irregular expenditure while no individual was held accountable for the irregular expenditure. The committee has urged its counterparts in the Provincial Legislatures to strengthen their oversight roles on the identified municipalities to reverse the worrying trend of accumulating irregular expenditure.
On Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality, the committee said it was not impressed with the information that the municipality had implemented only one issue of the audit action plan out of 28. This, the committee said, does not create the impression that the municipality is concerned by the R12.379 in irregular expenditure, and that shows disregard for the Audit Opinion. In addition, the committee said, this is despite the fact that the municipality got the audit opinion in November 2018 and should have been far ahead in implementing remedial actions.
The committee has also highlighted concerns that there are only one Section 57 managers currently employed at the municipality as this leaves a gap in leadership which is meant to provide strategic guidance to deal with issues raised by the Office of the Auditor General.
On Matlosana, the committee welcomed the initiatives taken by the council and senior managers in arresting irregular expenditure and ensuring that the municipality operates within its means. Despite this, the committee raised concerns over the 46 areas that the AG raised as a matter of concern. While the committee welcomes the attention payed on the 76 items, more emphasis should also be given to the rest of the audit items. The committee is also concerned by the high vacancy rate in the municipality and has called for measures to fill those positions, especially that of the Chief Financial Officer.
The committee has committed to monitor the five municipalities to ensure that they deal effectively with high irregular expenditure. With that being said, the committee is of the view that it can never be acceptable that municipalities violate procurement policies that provide a framework for procurement.
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON COOPERATIVE GOVERNANCE AND TRADITIONAL AFFAIRS, MR CHINA DODOVU
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