AG report backs COGTA intervention

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Minister, Zweli Mkhize, says the Auditor-General’s audit report on municipalities, released on Wednesday, is in line with the department’s stance that there is an urgent need to intervene in dysfunctional municipalities.

“The AG report today indicates that there is an urgent need to intervene in distressed municipalities as they have been confronted by a series of problems.

“The AG’s audit outcome is a very useful yardstick to gauge the general performance of municipalities. It corroborates CoGTA’s own assessment through the Back to Basics programmes which indicate that 31% of municipalities are dysfunctional and another 31% are almost dysfunctional,’’ said Minister Mkhize.

The Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu released his report on Wednesday which showed that during the 2016/2017 audit-report, irregular expenditure increased in municipalities.

The audit outcome reflects the results for the first year of the newly elected councils, after the re-demarcation of municipalities from 278 to 257, and the local government elections held in August 2016.

Mkhize expressed serious concern that the audit outcome for the financial year ending June 2017 has regressed in almost all areas.

“This is a continuous trend seen after every local government election. The areas of regression range from weak governance, the poor quality of annual financial statements, internal control weaknesses, and performance challenges,” said the Minister. 

Despite the challenges faced by municipalities, CoGTA congratulated 33 municipalities that received the unqualified audit opinion with no findings in the period 2016-2017.

“We are encouraged that with the ongoing efforts to improve the municipal audit outcomes, there are municipalities that do get things right and become exemplary to others. This is especially encouraging when this AG’s audit report represents a period when a two-third of councillors had just been elected into their new council positions following the 2016 Municipal Elections,’’ said Mkhize.

Plans afoot to get municipalities on track


In the immediate term, the Minister is set to deploy District Technical Support Teams who are experts and will be deployed to municipalities to focus on infrastructure planning, delivery and maintenance; financial management support; governance and administration issues.

“These teams will be supported by the Rapid Response technical team which will be assisting the financially distressed municipalities develop financial recovery plans in collaboration with the National Treasury. This will also ensure that they are able to access the Financial Management Conditional grant offered by the National Treasury to promote reforms in financial management and build capacity in municipalities,” said the Minister.

He said plans are underway to conduct provincial visits as part of CoGTA consultative processes to get to terms with the nature and extent of the problems faced by the municipalities.

“All these efforts are geared at ensuring that municipalities have effective governance systems in place; and qualified and competent senior professionals to manage municipal finances with accountability and within applicable policies.

“CoGTA will continue to provide the required support to all Municipalities that are in distress to ensure that they deliver services as per their mandate,” said Minister Mkhize. –