By Andrew Louw, MPL, DA Provincial Leader:
The release of the Auditor-General’s findings on the 2013-14 financial year for the Northern Cape shows that the province has officially failed to meet the targets of Operation Clean Audit. The minor improvements that have been made cannot compensate for the regressions and serious problems that are still prevalent. A third of municipalities have had nothing but disclaimers for the past eight years.
Only two municipalities managed to achieve clean audits. A clean audit status means that quality services are being delivered to all households. It means that there is proper financial management, controls over public funds and accountability on the spending of our rates and taxes. It shows that mayors and municipal managers take their responsibilities seriously. We don’t want municipalities to achieve clean audits for the sake of ticking boxes. We want them to achieve clean audits because services improve when municipalities can account for their finances properly.
But 94% of municipalities in the province cannot give an assurance of clean audits and good services to residents. When the paperwork is so chaotic that the auditor-general gives you a disclaimer, it is the people who suffer.
It is very worrying that the small improvements that were made here and there were the result of consultants. The use of consultants is not a long-term solution, but a last resort. Without the proper transfer of skills, the improvements will not be sustainable and the same problems will crop up in the next audit cycle.
21 municipalities used consultants to prepare financial statements, but also paid the salaries of chief financial officers. Why are the CFOs on the payroll if they are not willing or not able to perform their jobs? Consultants cannot compensate for pure laziness.
Overall, the Auditor-General’s findings show that it is only the Democratic Alliance that can govern well. The Western Cape only has financially unqualified audits, with no disclaimers or adverse opinions.