By Fred Nel MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs:
The DA in Gauteng welcomes the improved audit performances of municipalities across the province as it is an indication of improved financial management.
Although improved audit outcomes do not automatically imply financial stability, they are a good gauge of improved financial sustainability.
Unfortunately the complete picture of audit outcomes in the province is not so rosy – particularly the negative audit outcomes among various West Rand municipalities and their entities.
The West Rand District Municipality, Randfontein Municipality and the West Rand Development Agency all deteriorated in their audit outcomes, while Westonaria failed to submit financial statements for auditing.
A major concern is that this occurred despite the Gauteng Provincial Department for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) taking extensive measures to assist these municipalities in improving their audit outcomes.
MEC for COGTA in Gauteng, Jacob Mamabolo, must explain how his department failed to improve the financial standing of these municipalities.
These municipalities have been identified to be merged into a West Rand metropolitan municipality – a move the DA vehemently opposes.
Municipalities should not even be considered for mergers unless all the constituents are financially and managerially sound.
Lumping failing municipalities together will only cause financial mismanagement on a grander scale. The proposed West Rand Metro is destined to fail before it gets off the ground putting the lives of residents at serious risk.
Even if the proposed Metro merger does not take place, the two most dysfunctional municipalities, Westonaria and Randfontein, will be merged after the 2016 local government elections.
MEC Mamabolo should step up and take responsibility for his department’s failure in dealing with the managerial woes of West Rand municipalities.
He should also show leadership and halt the current attempted formation of a West Rand Metro until all its constituents have sorted out their financial affairs – failure to do so would be irresponsible.