Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has welcomed the Auditor-General Kimi Makwethu’s 2017/18 municipal audit report.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the Ministry said while the report showed some improvements across municipalities, it largely presents a picture of a decline in some key areas.
“The Minister welcomes the improvements outlined by the Auditor General but the overall regression by some municipalities is of serious concern,” Ministry spokesperson Lungi Mtshali said in the statement.
Releasing the report on Wednesday, Makwethu lamented local government for being slow in implementing and disregarding the audit office's recommendations.
In the statement, Dlamini-Zuma expressed concern that there are some municipalities which have not responded positively to address areas of challenges raised by his report in 2018.
“The Minister fully supports the work of the Auditor-General and would like to urge municipalities to accept the outcomes as a very useful yard stick to gauge their general performance as dictated by our constitution. Through the years, this report corroborated CoGTA’s own assessment through the Back to Basics programmes which indicates that a number of municipalities are dysfunctional,” Mtshali said.
The Auditor-General reported that out of the 257 municipalities, only 18 have achieved clean audits.
“This general regression of the audit outcome as announced by the Auditor-General is a serious concern,” said Dlamini-Zuma.
“This is a serious concern and the CoGTA leadership led by the Minister will continue to intensify engagement with all municipalities. Minister Dlamini-Zuma expressed serious concern that the audit outcomes for the financial year ending June 2018 has regressed in almost all areas. This negative trend is of concern touching on issues ranging from weak governance, the poor quality of annual financial statements, internal control weaknesses, and performance challenges.”
The Ministry said Dlamini-Zuma agrees that the failure by office bearers, senior management and officials failed to develop, implement and monitor effective systems and processes of internal control, including corrective action is a major factor contributing to this decline.
“In this regard, even though the AG report shows improvement in irregular expenditure is from R29.7 billion in 2016/2017 to R25.2 billion in 2017/2018, the number is still high. This calls for effective and efficient functioning municipalities,” Mtshali added.
The Ministry said Cogta was in the process to stabilise distressed municipalities.
“As part of our priority to build ethical and sound municipalities through the district based approach to enhance the capacity of municipalities to improve service delivery. There must be accountability where systems fail and perennial challenges in municipalities are not fixed.
"The aim of CoGTA is to have municipalities delivering efficient services to our people to ensure that we reverse what the AG report calls a deteriorating local government,” the Ministry said.
The Rapid Response technical team which is assisting the financially distressed municipalities develop financial recovery plans in collaboration with the National Treasury to ensure that they are able to access the Financial Management grants offered by the National Treasury to promote reforms in financial management and build capacity in municipalities. – SAnews.gov.za