George Mari, MPP
DA KZN Spokesperson on Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs
AN ambitious plan, to have all KwaZulu-Natal municipalities achieve clean audits by 2014, will not come to fruition unless provincial government commits to getting rid of cadre deployment and ensures that municipal officials are held accountable for poor management.
The turn-around strategy, announced by Premier, Zweli Mkhize, comes after just five of the province’s 61 municipalities achieved clean audits during the previous financial year. Despite having heard similar grand plans – on numerous occasions – the DA supports the Premier’s initiative which we sincerely hope marks a shift in political will. Good governance is dependent on the deployment of appropriately skilled personnel. It is also dependent on the extent to which officials are held accountable for poor management. And it is here that the provincial government will face its biggest challenge.
The recent Auditor-General’s report revealed a “lack of minimum competencies of officials in key positions” at 72% of auditees, while a “lack of consequences for poor performance and transgressions” scored 70%. The report further reveals that most municipalities are dragging their feet in implementing recommendations from the AG’s office. These figures are a serious indictment given that where local government fails, service delivery fails.
The recent violent service-delivery protests that have marred our province are a sign that communities have had enough of empty promises. This frustration is only aggravated when government spends R800 000 on a party to celebrate the small number of clean audits in the province – to which employees from under-performing municipalities are also invited. This is an appalling waste of taxpayers’ money that should instead be spent on service delivery.
KwaZulu-Natal municipalities need to start delivering. If they don’t then we expect Co-operative Governance MEC, Nomusa Dube, to take steps to rid local government of officials not able or qualified to perform their duties and lay charges against public servants who violate the principles of the Municipal Finance Management Act.