Maybe we just can’t do better

2014-02-23 10:00

A three-month investigation by City Press has revealed that less than half of the country’s municipal managers and their municipalities’ chief financial officers actually have the appropriate qualifications for their jobs.

City Press managed to obtain figures for 164 municipalities in six provinces – Western Cape, Free State, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape – which reveal that only 40% of municipal managers and 34% of chief financial officers met Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s deadline to meet education requirements.

Gordhan published the minimum competency level regulations in 2007, and municipal managers and finance officials had to comply with these by January last year or lose their jobs.

Municipal managers needed a bachelor’s degree, a certificate in municipal finance management and five years of experience in a senior position.

Chief financial officers in metros and large municipalities needed an honours degree, a postgraduate certificate or registration as a chartered accountant and seven years of experience.

Chief financial officers in smaller municipalities required a bachelor’s degree and a certificate in municipal finance.

Despite being given six years to get the proper qualifications, most of them still don’t have them, so it is no wonder that only 17 out of the country’s 278 municipalities received clean audits from outgoing Auditor-General Terence Nombembe last year.

Many communities across the country are in flames, thanks to widespread service-delivery protests.

One cannot help but think that incompetent municipal managers and chief financial officers may have had at least a little to do with what caused the problems.

In his budget speech on Wednesday, Gordhan is expected to allocate R40.5?billion to the country’s municipalities in terms of the Division of Revenue Act.

This sum includes R14.4?billion in municipal infrastructure grants, which are intended to be spent on much-needed facilities and services, the lack of which has caused many South Africans to take to the streets in protest.

How, we ask, are they going to do that better without the proper qualifications?

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