Political commitment important - Salga

2012-10-22 20:20
Auditor General Terence Nombembe found that only 13 municipalities of the country's 343 had clean audits. (Picture: Sapa)

Auditor General Terence Nombembe found that only 13 municipalities of the country's 343 had clean audits. (Picture: Sapa)

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Johannesburg - Getting the political leadership in poor performing municipalities to commit to improvement is vital, the SA Local Government Association (Salga) said on Monday.

"We have identified one key element [to improve municipalities] and that is political commitment. When there is a will from the political leadership, administrative performance will just follow," Salga chairperson Thabo Manyoni told reporters in Johannesburg.

"Our intention is to make sure that we get the political leadership of these institutions to take a keen interest in the performance of their municipalities."

On Monday, Salga met the municipalities which fared poorly in the auditor general's (AG) report on the state of municipal finances.

These included municipalities in Gauteng, the North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

Salga would meet the other provinces in the Eastern Cape on Thursday.

The report by AG Terence Nombembe, which was released in July, found that only 13 municipalities of the country's 343 had clean audits.

Manyoni said the meetings were held to help the municipalities perform better.

"Our intention is to engage with these municipalities with the sole aim of ensuring that when we leave this place they would have made a commitment to improving on the AG's findings," he said.

"We don't just want to talk about the report. Something needs to be done, and this is the beginning of it."

Municipalities that received clean audits were brought to the meeting to share their methods of success.

"At the end of the day, we really want to make sure that our municipalities are decent places that our citizens have confidence in," he said.

"As long as the municipalities have disclaimers and adverse opinions, that erodes the necessary confidence that is expected from them."

The office of the AG and financial firm PricewaterhouseCoopers were involved in the discussions.

Salga CEO Xolile George said municipalities needed to place a greater emphasis on accountability.

"This session is not about talking. This session is to look at areas where municipalities can make commitments," he said.

"There will be a framework to make sure that accountability is defined, necessary support is provided and where there are lapses... there will be a framework for a municipality to take necessary action."

Salga working group chairperson Subesh Pillay said the meetings would focus on key problems relevant to each municipality.

"We do know where the problems [in any municipality] are a bit more profound... and our interventions are homing [in] on them," he said.

"It is not a blanket approach."

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