Fix city’s error-prone IT systems, says A-G’s office

2011-06-27 00:00

MSUNDUZI Municipality needs to sort out its IT systems to avoid the large number of billing errors it encounters as this could affect its abililty to get a clean audit, executive committee (Exco) members were told in an address by the KwaZulu-Natal auditor-general’s (A-G) office.

A-G representative Merusha Vather outlined what must be done to help the municipality move away from its bad track record of qualified audits over the past two years.

Vather said a serious weakness is the lack of proper governance over the municipality’s information technology systems. She said IT is key to the municipality and she has seen that in the last three to four management reports there are lots of billing errors and complaints from customers that are IT-related.

In March this year, Vather said, her office made an interim report that stated that very little progress has been made in fixing this problem.

She advised that an IT task team be set up urgently. This team needs to put an action plan in place and give regular progress reports to both the municipality’s administrative management and Exco.

Vather said another major weakness is the municipality’s human resources situation. A municipality without permanent leadership, a high vacancy rate and far too many people in acting positions will struggle to put systems in place, she added.

Her office’s interaction with Msunduzi staff found that morale is low because of the uncertainty over positions because people have been in acting positions for over a year.

Vather said she felt encouraged after discussions with the new mayor, Chris Ndlela, that a new structure is in place and that it will be going to council for approval.

Thanking Vather for her input, Ndlela said he had to sign an undertaking to the A-G’s office that as part of the political leadership of the municipality he will play his oversight role.

“One is pushed into a corner at a personal level so I am not going to be scared to take action,” Ndlela said. This would mean looking at officials’ reporting mechanisms and whether reports are submitted on time, are accurate and give adequate information, and whether council reacts quickly to reports.

“We have been put into a difficult situation, but we need to live up to the expectations of those who put us here,” Ndlela said.

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