Msunduzi Municipality: Back in the black

2011-12-01 00:00

THE embattled Msunduzi Municipality “has been discharged from the intensive care unit” and no longer needs to be administered by the provincial task team, Sibusiso Sithole, the council’s administrator, said yesterday.

Delivering his exit report during a full council sitting at city hall, Sithole said the municipality has turned around its finances and has a bank balance of more than R270 million.

He cautioned councillors not to lead the municipality back to the state where it nearly collapsed into financial ruin.

Sithole said his exit report does not mean he is leaving the municipality immediately as his contract expires at the end of the month.

He said that if called upon by the provincial government to extend his stay in the council, he would oblige.

“I think we have passed the section where the municipality needs to be administered under section 139 (b) …

“To the councillors [I say] … it would be foolish to lead the municipality back to the position it was in.”

Sithole used the analogy of a patient’s progress in hospital when describing the current state of the municipality.

He said that when the intervention was ordered the council was in ICU. It progressed to the high care ward and now it has been discharged from hospital.

“The collection rate has stabilised at an average of between 82% and 85% when previous debts are factored in, and about 92% when previous debts are not taken into account,” Sithole said.

He said this is a critical milestone because at the time of the intervention the collection rate stood at about 53%, but the challenge will be to increase the rate to 95% to sustain the recovery.

Sithole said that while the municipality’s finances have improved, it will still need the support of all the spheres of government, including the national and provincial treasury, the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department and the Office of the Premier.

His report lists some of the achievements of the turnaround as being:

•Responding to Auditor-General findings;

•Cash flow management;

•Collection of rates;

•Payment of creditors;

•Supply chain management;

•Quality of financial information and reporting.

The challenges include:

•Filling of all critical vacancies;

•Finalisation of human resources policies to deal with the transfer of staff to positions that fit their qualifications;

•Finalisation of the review of the organisational structure;

•Finalisation of the meter reading tender;

•Registration of indigent consumers to quantify the financial provisions that need to be made.

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