‘Rise above’ party politics

2018-06-13 16:38

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Rise above party politics, and sort things out.

That was the message to Msunduzi’s top brass who faced a tough grilling from the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) portfolio committee on Tuesday.

The department also admitted that KZN’s capital city is among the province’s “poor performing municipalities” .

They were called before members of the provincial legislature (MPLs), who demanded answers on the auditor-general’s disclaimer opinion on their finances and the city’s turnaround strategy.

The meeting, held at the Harry Gwala Stadium, was tense from the outset as councillors clashed over who was allowed to attend the meeting, but committee chair Nonzwakazi Swartbooi-Ntombela ruled the gathering was open to anyone who wanted to attend.

Msundusz’s delegation and the MPLs did not agree on what caused the city to regress from a clean audit to a qualified opinion in 2015/2016 and then a disclaimer for 2016/2017.

The chief financial officer Neli Ngcobo said the disclaimer was due to the statement on their R3 billion revenue not being audited because it was not given to Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu timeously. She said the delay was caused by the challenges in getting some of the required information from the service provider of the old financial management system.

Municipal manager Sizwe Hadebe said the items that were not audited make up the majority of the 10 items that led to the city’s disclaimer and they are being addressed.

He said the other items, such as the writing off of bad debts, have been before council for rectification as per the AG’s recommendations.

“We are not disputing the disclaimer. We are not saying we are putting everything at the AG’s door and absolving ourselves,” he said.

Some of the MPLs did not accept the explanation, saying there were a number of disclaimer issues that were cited as re-occurring.

Their concerns ranged from the vacancy rate to suspensions, cost-containment, electricity losses and consequence management.

ANC MPL Maggie Govender said the political leadership must ensure that the officials are doing their jobs instead of “allowing them to feed you stories”. She said the last audit opinion indicated that the issues raised by the AG are not being rectified and they become worse the following year.

She said Msunduzi’s cost containment strategy will not lead to the municipality being financially sustainable if it is focused on small items such as refreshments. She said the municipality should be cutting down on things like hiring consultants but instead it has gone and hired three firms to assist with turning around the disclaimer.

“Your CFO is employed to ensure that you get a clean audit or an unqualified audit, together with her team. On top of those who are employed to do their jobs, you are now employing more people to do their jobs,” said Govender.

Cogta’s deputy director for municipal finance Philani Moya told the committee that the city’s audit action plan did not adequately address the issues raised by the AG.

He said the department is supporting Msunduzi to try and turn things around as it is considered as one of the “poor performing municipalities”.

Hadebe disputed Moya’s presentation, saying it created an impression that the situation is bleak when it is not. He said the audit action plan was accepted and Cogta is regularly given progress on its implementation.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  msunduzi municipality

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