The Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (IMATU) is pleased by what the Auditor General, Kimi Makwetu, has described as an encouraging improvement in local government audit results over the past five years from 2010-11 to 2014-15.
The Auditor General’s Report, based on audit reports for the financial year ended 30 June 2015 as well as an overview of the trends over last five years, indicated that the number of municipalities receiving clean audits had increased from 13 to 54. In addition, 18 municipal entities also achieved clean audit status, taking the total number of clean audits to 72 in the current period
“While it is evident that financial reporting amongst municipalities has improved, there has been a deterioration in financial management. The Auditor General’s findings mirror the very same issues that we are trying to address on the ground. Every year our members are promised that supply chain management and financial controls will improve, corruption and nepotism will be tackled, vacancies will be filled and employees adequately trained. It is however, very difficult for workers to achieve effective and efficient service delivery while these serious issues continue to go unaddressed,” commented IMATU General Secretary, Johan Koen.
The Auditor General highlighted reliance on consultants, poor planning and recruitment, lack of performance management and monitoring and the inadequate transferring of skills as recurring concerns that persist in the sphere of local government.
IMATU has repeatedly cautioned against the increasing reliance on consultants to assist municipalities with their financial reporting and preparation. This failure to strengthen internal controls, adequately train staff and fill vacancies with the appropriately skilled officials was also highlighted by the Auditor General. He said, “We found that at 105 municipalities (42%), the financial statements submitted for auditing included material misstatements in the areas in which consultants did work, which meant the misstatements were identified and corrected by the audit process and not by the consultant. This remains a concern regarding the effective use of these consultants.”
“It is disappointing to see increases in irregular expenditure, fruitless and wasteful expenditure and unauthorised expenditure over the past 5 years. Of equal concern is the Auditor General’s belief that little improvement has taken place to address uncompetitive or unfair procurement processes, especially with reference to the high prevalence of awards being made to suppliers in which employees, councillors and state officials have an interest,” commented Koen.
IMATU strongly believes that further improvement can only take place when municipal management commits to taking ownership of municipal performance practices, insists on correctly qualified staff, roots out corruption and provides strong leadership.
“IMATU is committed to working towards achieving an efficient and sustainable local government service delivery model. At our National Congress in March this year, the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs commended the union for our strong leadership, support of development programmes and our commitment to deepen democracy and accountability and to improve basic service delivery. The commitment of our members must be matched by decisive leadership, accountability and political will at the top,” concluded Koen.