Government to provide support to struggling municipalities

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Deputy Minister Andries Nel has welcomed the release of the audit outcomes for municipalities, saying government will provide support to distressed municipalities. 

The Deputy Minister said this when Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu released his report on the outcomes of municipal audits for the financial year 2016/17 at the Imbizo Centre in Parliament. 

The Auditor-General announced that there has been an overall regression in municipalities that received clean audits in the period under review compared to the previous year. 

“The Ministry of COGTA welcomes the audit improvements in some municipalities and we express serious concerns regarding those that have regressed in light of the 2016/17 audit report released by the Auditor-General today. 

“We congratulate those 33 municipalities that have received unqualified audit opinions with no findings in the period of 2016/17 and again express very serious concern when it comes to serious regressions in audit outcomes,” said Nel. 

He said the outcomes of the audit provides a basis for government to intervene to support struggling municipalities. 

“While the number remains very low, Cogta does note from the AG report that a total of a 145 (or 56%) of municipal outcomes are classified as unqualified. 

“We believe that this does represent a basis for national and provincial governments ongoing support programmes to improve financial management in municipalities. 

“We are encouraged that in the ongoing efforts to improve the municipal audit outcomes, there are municipalities that do get things right and do become examples for others to follow,” he said.   

He said that he believed the Auditor-General’s report is a very useful yardstick to gauge the general performance of municipalities. 

“It also corroborates Cogta’s own assessment through our Back to Basics programme that one third of our municipalities are functioning well, one third are getting many of the basics right but experience serious challenges that they need to be supported in, and one third of the municipalities are, quite frankly, dysfunctional,” he said.   

Nel said Cogta is currently striving to achieve an ideal municipality that would provide for a democratic and accountable municipality, one that would be responsive to the needs of local municipalities, ensure provision of basic services, provide local economic development to residents and encourage involvement of communities in issues of governance. 

He said the ideal municipality would also promote a culture of service accountability among staff and assign true responsibilities to the municipal management and to ensure accountability. 

The AG’s report indicated that there is an urgent need to intervene in distressed municipalities as they are being confronted by problems such as institutional capacity, leading to “a catastrophic breakdown of services” in some instances. 

In this regard, Cogta Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has intervened in distressed municipalities and engaged business and black professionals to secure their support to distressed municipalities that often struggle with contract management and their ability to plan, coordinate and maintain infrastructure.  –