No plan to take over councils
Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane said yesterday there was no need to put poorly performing municipalities under administration.
Mokonyane was speaking a day after a damning report by Auditor-general Terence Nombembe revealed how municipalities in her province were showing no signs of improving their financial management, with many havinggone from bad to worse.
Referring to audit outcomes of 15 municipalities in Gauteng, Mokonyane said issues of concern raised by Nombembe were not impossible to resolve.
According to the report, not a single municipality in the province had improved its financial management, with three, Metsweding, Nokeng Tsa Tsemane and Randfontein, performing worse than in previous audits.
The City of Johannesburg received its second consecutive qualified audit.
While the municipalities collectively wasted just over R1-billion on irregular, unauthorised and fruitless expenditure, Nombembe also uncovered that:
- Municipalities and entities spent R3.1-million paying salaries of suspended officials;
- Councils wasted R5.3-million on interest due to late payment of suppliers; and
- About 29% of tenders worth R66-million were awarded to family and council employees, while 43% were given to state officials.
Nombembe identified critical weaknesses, saying municipalities ended up using consultants even though incompetent officials were paid to do the job.
But Mokonyane said there was no urgent push for "active intervention. I don't think we should start talking about takeover. We're very far from that. I don't think there is any municipality that is in that situation," she said.
MEC for local government Ntombi Mekgwe said there was light at the end of the tunnel: "In terms of the municipalities, there is willingness to change the status quo. [If] that willingness is not there, you will regress forever."
Nombembe said the reasons for poor audits could be found "in the fact that half of political leadership at municipal level is not taking [me] seriously".
"This means that insufficient effort was made to establish basic internal controls and management disciplines at municipal level.
". The fact that in nearly two-thirds of the municipalities there were no clear consequences for poor performance confirms this view," Nombembe said.
DA spokesman on local government Fred Nel called for immediate intervention.
"It is clear from the auditor-general's report that local government in Gauteng is in serious trouble and that attempts to turn it around have failed dismally," Nel said.