How clean a bill of health has district?

2008-12-07 00:00

FINANCIAL accounting, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. In the case of uMgungundlovu District Municipality and its unqualified audit, there seemingly are two beholders — the municipality and the office of the auditor-general of KwaZulu-Natal.

The clean bill of health reported last week appears to represent a most welcome turnaround for the beleaguered municipality. Then again, perhaps taxpayers have every expectation that a government department should balance its books, and that it took almost 10 years of disclaimers and qualifications to achieve this comes as small comfort.

Speaking of troubling niggles, how does the clean audit account for the millions of rands allegedly owed by officials and councillors past and present? And what about the other fruitless and wasteful expenditure? Is that factored into the equation and will those missing millions ever be recovered, or will they be written off as a loss to the treasury and taxpayers?

The district municipality, more than many other local government entities, has shown itself to be a dysfunctional and wasteful entity, and one tick does not cancel the dozens of crosses still to be resolved.

Simply put, its days are numbered because the centrifugal force holding this fractious lot together, the Msunduzi Municipality, is set to become a fully-fledged metro in 2011.

This means that two-thirds of the region’s population, and about the same ratio of income generated, will migrate with the city, and leave uMgungundlovu with the headache of running a municipality shaped like a donut. Given the overwhelming needs of a district that includes Richmond, Camperdown, Wartburg, Howick, Mooi River and Impendle, the capacity, skills and savvy needed to run such a nonsensical and cumbersome municipality would be better spent on pursuing a sound alternative.

We put our money on a metro that will rise above the pitiful parochialism of career politicians scrambling for jobs.

KwaSani capers

SPEAKING of career politicians looking for a free ride, the ANC and its cadres in the Underberg area appear to have no qualms about circulating false rumours.

At issue is a boundary readjustment by the Municipal Demarcation Board that would see the most north-eastern part of KwaSani — the Stepmore/Stoffelton area — incorporated into Impendle.

KwaSani municipal officials are telling all and sundry that the change is going to be reversed, apparently in a bid to ensure that the two ANC councillors who live there stay on the payroll.

Perhaps the officials should be reminded that the boundary change on January 1 will be in place for next year’s national and provincial elections, and can be challenged only after the 2011 local elections.

Eye so easy

CREDIT to Moffatt Optical for easing the pain of having to renew a driver’s licence by offering a free eye test ahead of the application. Conducted in our case by the ever affable and friendly Warrick Hulbert, we were spared the eye test, and instead advanced to the mandatory game of musical chairs before handing in our forms and money. As it turned out, we had an easy passage, thanks to some behind-the-counter friendliness, and, of course, the MO test.

Air traffic slows

ACCORDING to the International Air Transport Association, global air traffic in October declined for a second consecutive month.

International passenger traffic declined by 1,3% in October compared with the same month in 2007, and follows a 2,9% drop in September. International air freight traffic fell by 7,9% in October, the fifth consecutive monthly decline.

African carriers saw the largest decline, with international traffic dropping by 12,9% in October, to confirm Africa’s status as the weakest market for air traffic in the past year.

Repo bets

AFTER a slow start on account of overwhelmingly bearish sentiment, the odds favouring a drop in the repo rate are making up lost ground, fast.

One proponent is Malcolm Charles, portfolio manager at Investec Asset Management, who argues that a rate cut on Thursday will help avert the risk of recession.

He contends that inflation is beaten, that we could see a figure of 7,4% in January, and that a rate cut this month is entirely appropriate as a matter of economic policy.

More importantly, he argues that South Africa has the opportunity to buck the global trend, supporting economic growth, and attract foreign capital inflows.

Last word

“SOONER or later, overseas investors will get tired of earning zero percent at home and start looking for growth. Now isn’t the time to be pedantic and academic. The South African economy needs bold vision.” — Albert Coetzee, Investec.

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