Municipal Finance 4th quarter review closeout report 2014/15

By Francois Rodgers, MPL, DA KZN Spokesperson on Finance:

AS we head towards a local government election year, careful analysis of KZN’s Municipal Finance 4th quarter review closeout report for 2014/15 should be a wake-up call for those sitting on the ANC benches.

Certainly, if I was sitting there I would be more than slightly concerned that now, more than ever before, the tide is turning and the winds of change are slowing increasing in magnitude.

Service delivery at a municipal level is an effective barometer of government’s performance. It is the way in which an effective and caring government can make a difference in the lives of all people in our province.

Why then has KZN seen an increased number of service delivery protests?
Karen Heese, Economist at Municipal IQ, notes that: “a relatively high number of protests were recorded over the last two months which has meant that the third quarter of 2015 recorded more protests than the first two”.

Could it be that the people of KZN have just had enough of empty promises, have just had enough of corruption, nepotism, non-accountability and incompetence by certain politicians and officials in municipalities?

A look at the financial allocation to local government through equitable share and grant funding shows that this portfolio gets a significant slice of the pie to assist with service delivery and capital projects.

Why is it then that most municipalities still can’t get it right?

Why is it that municipalities are unable to spend their grant funding timeously, year in and year out?

Why is it that KZN has to spend R101 million on a financial management grant to promote and support reforms in financial management by building capacity in municipalities to implement the MFMA?

Why is it that KZN has to spend R56 million on the Municipal Systems Improvement Grant to assist municipalities in building in-house capacity to perform their functions to stabilise institutional and governance systems?

Why is it that after 21 years we need to roll-out a “back to basics” programme when it comes to local government and its sole mandate of delivering effective and affordable service delivery?

Why is it that some of our senior municipal officials and mayors continue to earn astronomical salaries and performance bonuses yet are unable to effectively spend their grant funding to improve the lives of all our people?

Why is it that many municipalities have insufficient available cash to ensure that unspent conditional grants are cash backed?

  • Municipalities are utilizing unspent capital conditional grants to fund both operating and capital expenditure
  • Municipalities are not complying with the conditions of the grant
  • Poor management and reporting on conditional grants.

One does not have to be a ‘rocket scientist’ to determine where the failure lies in local government. It’s simply the lack of human capacity.  This is a direct result of continually appointing officials to senior positions as a result of their political affiliation rather than their qualification or ability to fulfil their duties effectively.

Having spent 19 years in local government myself, I can attest to this failed policy.