Zululand municipalities ‘worst’

2012-12-05 00:00

MUNICIPALITIES in Zululand are the worst in the province for keeping financial records, according to the provincial government.

The KZN Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) believes the failures are due to the change of political leadership in municipalities and a serious shortage of senior financial managers.

In a statement released by Cogta, commenting on the KZN Auditor-General’s report for the 2011/12 financial year, Zululand municipalities — uMkhanyakude District, Mtubatuba, uMhlabuyalingana, eDumbe, uPhongolo, Jozini and Hlabisa — were highlighted as having severe shortcomings in their financial reporting.

They were found to either have received disclaimers or qualified audits, a clear indication of poor financial control.

Some of these municipalities have long been reported in the media to be riddled with corruption.

Currently, Mtubatuba is under provincial administration for failing to execute a turnaround strategy and to undertake a forensic report requested by the Treasury.

In 2009, uMhlabuyalingana was placed under administration when millions of rands were unaccounted for.

And it is widely known that

uMkhanyakude District, which is in debt, was also placed under administration prior to the 2011 local government elections.

Almost all of the councils have either suspended or fired a municipal manager or chief financial officer (CFO), and the majority have narrow to almost non-existent rates bases, making them wholly reliant on government grants.

The department has defended the current councils, blaming the various municipalities’ previous administrators and former political leaders for the debacle. All the failing Zululand municipalities were run by the IFP prior to the 2011 local elections. Now, they are run by the NFP or the ANC, or a coalition between the two.

“The year … was characterised by the change of guard in the leadership of municipalities since the 2011 local government elections. This period also coincided with the expiring of contracts of municipal managers and some CEOs, which created a vacuum and compromised proper decision making,” said a Cogta statement.

But the IFP was quick to respond and deny any culpability.

The party’s Cogta spokesperson, Inkosi Bonga Mdletshe, said the ANC was trying to shift the blame from poor performing municipalities under its control to the IFP.

“We can’t stand for this. They are trying to say the faults at the municipalities are our fault. This is incorrect. We stand against corruption, not for it. When we ran these municipalities, we investigated claims of corruption,” said Mdletshe.

He conceded that

uMhlabuyalingana and uMkhanyakude were put under administration under the IFP’s watch, but said “the problem then was the officials”.

Cogta MEC Nomusa Dube is expected to convene “an urgent meeting” with all the province’s mayors, municipal managers and CFOs to discuss the problems.

The A-G’s report found 45 municipalities in KZN received unqualified audit reports, compared to 47 last year.

Dube said her department was hoping to take out the positives from the A-G’s report, learn from the mistakes made by the various councils and strengthen their support.

“We have realised that we encounter weaknesses each time there is a change of leadership due to local government elections. We will now come up with measures to avert such a situation. We are going to enhance our efforts to beef up financial prudence in all municipalities,” said Dube.

• zulunews2@feveronline.co.za

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