KZN mayors ‘didn’t listen’

2014-08-01 00:00

MAYORS across the province have been accused of being lame ducks for failing to listen to the auditor-general, a new report reveals.

And it was found that political interference, slowness to react and the appointment of unsuitable candidates to key posts, were central to the damning auditor-general (AG) report.

Mayors of nearly 20 municipalities have been fingered for not listening to the AG’s advice and now many of them are among the province’s worst financial performers.

Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu said the interactions with the mayors had either no, minimal or little “impact on the audit outcomes”.

Almost all the municipalities had poor control over supply chain management, poor staff performance control, critical vacancies and splurged on consultants who the AG found brought little or no benefit to the councils.

The General Report on the Audit Outcomes of Local Government 2012-13 found the financial health of the province’s 61 municipalities had regressed and that nearly R2 billion had been spent irregularly.

Among the pack of bad mayors was Msunduzi mayor Chris Ndlela.

In the AG’s assessment of Msunduzi, Makwetu said: “We met with the mayor twice during the financial year and these interactions had little impact on the audit outcome. The reason for our assessment is the lack of impact the mayor had on the controls as well as the repetitive findings on financial management and on compliance with laws and regulations.”

The report said the findings against Msunduzi were a result of the “overall deterioration … caused by inadequate processes, policies and monitoring controls over financial transactions” as well as “audit recommendations not being implemented in good time”.

Ndlela yesterday said he could make no judgment on the report’s findings as he had yet to see it.

The AG was equally scathing of the mayors of Ugu, Thukela, Zululand and Ilembe.

But there were also several mayors from municipalities who had obtained unqualified audits with findings.

Several of these mayors disputed their newly labelled status, claiming they had put special emphasis on meeting the demands of the auditor-general.

Ingwe Municipality mayor Nomagugu Luzulane said if they had not listened to the AG their audit would have been adverse.

“Ingwe Municipality has been getting an unqualified audit opinion since 2008. If we had not been listening to the AG we would have received either a qualified, disclaimer or adverse audit opinion,” said Luzulane.

The AG was complimentary of eThekwini Municipality despite the province’s only metro having racked up R325,27 million in irregular expenditure. It said that this was better than previous years, having decreased by “67% over the past three years, from R1 billion in 2010-11”.

“Although there has been a regression in key controls, largely due to the ICC, the municipality improved due to the appointment of the head of internal audit.”

uMhlathuze Municipality mayor ­Elphas Mbatha, whose municipality was one of five to obtain a “clean audit”, said the challenge lies in maintaining a high standard.

“A lot of work goes into making this possible. For us it is a great result but staying on this level will require hard work,” said Mbatha.

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