District gets clean audit

2010-02-08 00:00

THE Umgungundlovu District Municipality has managed to maintain its clean audit record for the second year in a row.

There were congratulations all round in the council chamber on Friday when the Auditor-General (A-G) presented his report. The council received an unqualified audit with certain matters of emphasis.

The A-G’s office noted the dramatic turnaround within the municipality, pointing out this clean bill came barely two years after the municipality had received a disclaimer in the 2006/07 financial year. A disclaimer means that the financial records of the municipality are in such a poor state that the A-G cannot make any findings about it.

The district municipality has emerged from a controversial past in which funds were completely run down. In the end there was no money to buy basics such as toilet rolls or paper for the fax machines. There were numerous examples of wasteful expenditure, such as councillors getting cellphone allowances as well as cellphones whose bills were paid by the municipality. There was no paper trail to show how money was being spent.

The former municipal manager, Monica Mngadi, resigned after being exposed for having questionable qualifications, notably a one-day master of business administration degree.

The ANC leadership in the province replaced the executive of the municipality. Within five months, when the next audit was due, the municipality received an unqualified report in 2007/08. The team members at the time were municipal manager Sbu Khuzwayo, who was seconded from the provincial Local Government Department, acting chief financial officer Walter Muwandi, who was seconded from KZN Treasury, and Yusuf Bhamjee, who had moved from the provincial legislature to become mayor.

Khuzwayo decided to stay on as municipal manager. The current clean audit was achieved under his watch, that of mayor Bhamjee and acting CFO Busani Ndlovu.

Opposition parties added their congratulations. The IFP’s Patrick Bhengu said his party is very happy at the news of the unqualified audit report in light of the past financial chaos within the municipality.

“We need to sustain this good record and as members in this council we are willing to play our part,” he said.

Mike Bond of the Democratic Alliance said the report shows the municipality’s commitment to clean governance is being handled with care. He noted the emphasis by the A-G on key performance indexes and expressed concern that the municipality has not yet addressed this.

Bhamjee welcomed the criticism, saying this will inspire the team to raise the bar.

In his closing remarks, the A-G’s representative, Poobalan Govender, said “well done” to the municipality for its achievements. He called on councillors and administration staff to achieve an unqualified audit with no matters of emphasis before the national government’s 2014 clean audit goal.

The celebratory mood at the district municipality was in sharp contrast to disappointment at the Msunduzi Municipality, which has received a qualified audit from the A-G after receiving clean audits for two years in a row.

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