IOL 14 June 2019

While the SACP has added its voice in calling on municipalities to eliminate irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure, more focus will be on the auditor-general’s upcoming financial report of local governments in the country.

Auditor-general Kimi Makwetu is expected to release the financial audit outcomes for local governments for the 2017/18 financial year next month.

This will also be the first time he will issue full-blown financial audit reports on Joburg and Tshwane since they came under the control of the DA after the 2016 local government elections.

SACP spokesperson Alex Mashilo has said that municipalities should prioritise high-quality services to communities by providing decent work for municipal workers and job opportunities to reduce unemployment.

“Strong emphasis must be placed on systematically eliminating irregular, fruitless and wasteful spending, and on dealing decisively with all forms of corruption and violation of due processes and procedures,” Mashilo said.

He said his party welcomed the newly released regulatory measures, which would limit the use of and reliance on consultants.

Municipal Cost Containment Regulations 2019 is due to come into effect on July 1.

Mashilo said his party was of the view that consultants should only be used if it was an “absolute necessity”.

“Municipalities need to put in place systems for professional career paths and appoint professionals instead of relying on outsourcing their functions and therefore on consultants.”

He said his party also welcomed the curtailment of the use of hired vehicles and cuts in the use of flights.

Last year, the auditor-general’s office commended various councils in the country for saving billions after they reported incidents of irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditures to the attention of his auditors during the audit processes.

Makwetu said the total figure of irregular expenditure for the 2016/17 financial year was R28.3billion, an increase of 75% compared with the prior financial year.

He, however, said the bulk of irregular expenditure uncovered was incurred prior to the 2016 local government elections and were reported by municipal managers and political leadership, who took office after the elections.

According to him, irregular expenditure for 2016/17 alone stood at R4.5bn.

However, Makwetu did not express the same enthusiasm about smaller municipalities. Reports indicated that they were vulnerable to losses, surpluses and deficits.

The smaller municipalities were also found to be struggling to pay their creditors within 30 days as stipulated in the Municipal Public Management Finance Act.

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