DA comment on local government audit outcomes

Andrew Louw, MPL

DA Provincial Leader

The Democratic Alliance remains concerned about the audit outcomes of local government, especially the fact that despite so-called interventions, not a single municipality in the Northern Cape has been able to secure a clean audit report.

At the same time, however, we are not surprised, as it has long since become clear that Coghsta has failed to effectively implement the new Municipal Systems Amendment Act, which mandates that senior positions such as those held by municipal managers and chief financial officers, must be filled by properly qualified personnel. In other words, local government still does not have the most basic tenets for financial viability in place, namely ensuring that finance units are adequately manned by properly trained finance staff.

Without skilled people to manage something as complex as an institution’s finances, it is little wonder that basic financial disciplines such as proper record keeping and regular processing of transactions have long since fallen by the wayside, opening the way for increased irregular and unauthorized spending.

If we are to improve basic service delivery, transforming financial performance at local government level must be the first priority. This is because municipalities are the coal face of delivery and for residents to be able to benefit from the best quality services that the available resources can provide, municipalities must be able to both spend effectively and collect revenue effectively so that municipalities have a constant cash flow.

In addressing these poor audit outcomes, the DA urges the Northern Cape Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs not to come up with yet another time consuming turn-around type plan for municipalities. This is because no plan to tackle poor financial outcomes will ever work until such time as there are capable people in place to execute such plans. The answer instead lies in urgently equipping the finance units of municipalities with the necessary staff, as the AG himself has advised.