Speakers to be held liable for poor municipal finances

Fred Nel MPL

Spokesperson on Local Government

The Gauteng office of the Auditor-General (AG) indicated that it will be auditing municipal councils’ decision-making with regards to finances in the future, in particular scrutinising the leadership of Speakers of councils.

This emerged during a recent briefing by the AG to the Gauteng Legislature’s Local Government and Housing portfolio committee meeting.

Municipal speakers are the leaders of municipal councils which, in effect is the board of directors of a municipality and shares a fiduciary duty towards it. Therefore the leadership of speakers will be scrutinised by the AG in future audits.

The AG lamented the lack of functionality of municipal public accounts committees (MPACs) and their failure to exercise proper oversight over municipal finances. Since MPACs are a committee of a municipal council the full council, and ultimately speakers of council, remain responsible for its functioning.

Municipal councils are also ultimately collectively responsible for all financial decisions and oversight with regards to municipal finances and is therefore responsible to exercise the responsibilities of failed MPACs.

I welcome this approach by the AG as most municipalities in Gauteng have regressed in recent audits and are struggling financially. This approach will go a long way to contribute towards the turnaround if municipal finances in Gauteng, as long as there are consequences for poor performing speakers.

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