Councillors could be disciplined over mismanaged municipalities

2013-03-19 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL councillors could be charged with misconduct if they fail to take action against officials responsible for mismanagement of municipal finances.

The threat came from Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube in an effort to hold councillors accountable for poor financial management in municipalities.

“I get a sense that if we are serious about improving the financial status of our municipalities and meeting our target of achieving clean audits by 2014, we need to take drastic decisions and begin to charge councillors in terms of the code of conduct for their poor oversight,” Dube said.

She made the comment in Durban on Friday after meeting mayors and chairpersons of municipal standing committees on public accounts from 16 poorly performing municipalities.

Out of the 61 municipalities in KZN, only Umtshezi Municipality obtained a clean audit in 2011/12. Seven councils obtained disclaimers, eight received qualified audit opinions and 45 others unqualified audit opinions.

“As a province we have regressed from being one of the star performers in this critical indicator of financial management and I find this totally unacceptable,” Dube said.

Local government was at the coalface of the delivery of public services and the success or failure of municipalities in delivering services shaped public opinion about government as a whole.

“More importantly, poor financial management feeds into perceptions of corruption, fraud and maladministration, which erodes the confidence of citizens and diminishes the hope among many that they will ever enjoy a better life.”

Dube said it was time mayors and councillors took their fair share of the blame for mismanagement of municipal finances.

“The audit outcomes will have a direct bearing on the councillors’ salary increases. We can’t reward non-performance,” she said, before calling on councillors to take disciplinary action against officials who flouted tender procedures.

Dube said councillors should not accept excuses from officials to regularise fruitless, wasteful and irregular expenditures. They should be liable to charged “so that they can act decisively on the reckless officials. Condoning poor governance is a case for discipline in terms of the councillor code of conduct.”

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