Local govt picks up

2014-12-02 00:00

LOCAL governance has got cleaner, with more municipalities recording clean audits than ever before.

At a closed auditor-general (A-G) meeting, which The Witness was asked to leave, the A-G’s office announced significant improvements in the province’s fiscal responsibility.

Of the 71 local government institutions — made up of 10 municipal entities and 61 municipalities — 22 had improved from 2012/13, seven “regressed” and 42 obtained repeat opinions.

But according to sources, the A-G, business executive Vanuja Maharaj, did not use the platform to “name and shame” the troubled municipalities but rather congratulated the successful ones.

Maharaj was releasing the results of the municipalities and their entities on the audit outcomes of local government and their compliance with the Municipal Finance Management Act in the 2013/2014 financial year.

Among the successful municipalities obtaining clean audits were the uMgungundlovu District, uThungulu District, Richmond and uMhlathuze. Msunduzi received an unqualified audit and eThekwini Metro a qualified audit.

Of the 20 obtaining clean audits, eight were a repeat and a further 12 had improved from an unqualified audit.

uMgungundlovu District mayor ­Yusuf Bhamjee called their success — the first time the district has obtained a clean audit — a result of “having proper systems in place”.

“We have proper accountability. From 2008, when I was deployed to the municipality, to 2014 the municipality had been bankrupt but now we have surplus funds and investments and have successfully spent our grants,” said Bhamjee.

Richmond mayor Andrew Ragavaloo called their clean audit “exciting”.

“We are thrilled with the performance of our officials for obtaining a clean audit for the second year running,” said Ragavaloo.

He said the issues being faced in Richmond including the recent burning of a municipal office block and ­protests in the town yesterday were “ironic” considering their “successes”.

Mxolisi Kunene, finance head for uMhlathuze (Richards Bay) municipality, said their clean audit was the result of “political support” and direction from the town’s municipal manager, Nhlanhla Sibeko.

“We have good internal controls,” said Kunene.

The A-G found seven municipalities to have obtained “qualified audits”, of which three had improved from ­disclaimers and one institution had regressed.

The number of institutions with ­disclaimers remained the same ­although one had regressed from “qualified” and two from “unqualified audits” the previous year.

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