OUTGOING Auditor-General (A-G) Terence Nombembe yesterday gave KwaZulu-Natal local government a pat on the back for agreeing to pilot a government initiative that seeks to make local government perform optimally. Announcing the pilot programme at the SA Local Government Association (Salga) provincial member assembly in Durban, Nombembe said KZN Salga had “put up its hand to be a guinea pig”. “The leadership of Salga in this province has made itself a pilot site to experiment on what works and not,” he said. Nombembe said sustainability of local government had not been optimised in the country. This, he said, was because the different spheres of government still have not found a way to work together. “That is what we need to find and perfect,” he said. Nombembe said the A-G and National Treasury would support the district and metro municipalities experiment on delivery of service on the business mode that worked for local government. The programme would target the province’s district and metro municipalities to pool resources on technology, infrastructure and human resources. He warned that for the programme to work, it needed leadership buy-in from the provincial government. Salga KZN chairperson Welcome Mdabe said it formed part of the government plan to ensure municipalities obtained clean audits reports in 2014. Mdabe said the district municipalities would establish a shared service model to employ highly qualified staff on behalf of local municipalities that they could not attract due to lack of resources. “Local government will be able to fulfil its constitutional mandate and make sure it has enough capacity to delivery on the issue [highly qualified staff] local municipalities could not attract.” The pilot project will start in the next financial year, once the concept document was put in place. No specified budget has been announced for the programme, but stakeholders such as National Treasury have agreed to be part of the pilot programme, Mdabe said. Nombembe, who steps down from office at the end of the month, used his visit to the province to reflect on the journey he has walked with the province during his tenure. “It has been a journey that taught us how important it is to open space for dialogue.” He said KZN improved remarkably from an era where the A-G could not express an opinion on the finances of municipalities due to a lack of supporting documents and absence of financial management systems. He said while the past two years saw the emergence of municipalities with clean audits, this was eclipsed in the last year by an inability to maintain momentum. He was, however, convinced that KZN “has everything it takes to rise”.