The Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (IMATU) is extremely disappointed by the deteriorating results displayed by municipalities in the 2017-18 local government audit outcomes report, released earlier today.

In his report Auditor General, Kimi Makwetu, detailed that only 18 municipalities received clean audit opinions, tracking a decline from the 33 municipalities that received clean audits last year. While the audit outcomes of 22 municipalities did improve, 63 regressed, confirming the generalized trend of worsening performance management and financial accountability in the local government sector. The report furthermore highlighted a persistent culture of non-compliance with audit outcomes, inadequate infrastructure and maintenance planning, failure to investigate or recover unauthorized expenditure and the increasingly hostile environment facing audit teams.

“The Auditor General’s findings mirror the very same issues that our members face and that we are trying to address on the ground. Every year we are promised that internal controls will be strengthened, supply chain management will improve, corruption and nepotism will be tackled, vacancies will be filled and employees adequately trained. It is however very difficult for workers to achieve effective and efficient service delivery while these serious problems continue to go unaddressed. This year the Auditor General has gone a step further and singled out the lack of accountability as the major cause of poor local government audit results,” commented IMATU General Secretary, Johan Koen.

“Despite a slight decrease from last year, it remains alarming that municipalities have collectively reported R 25.2 billion in irregular expenditure. The Auditor General’s Report indicated that this amount could be even higher, as ‘46% of the municipalities were either qualified on the incomplete disclosure of irregular expenditure or disclosed in their financial statements that they did not know the full extent of irregular expenditure’. Employers plead poverty when it comes time to negotiate fair wage increases, yet the Auditor General’s report confirms that few municipalities follow corrective audit outcomes and no one is held responsible for irregular expenditure. IMATU strongly believes that improvement can only take place when municipal management commits to taking ownership of municipal performance practices, insists on correctly qualified staff, roots out corruption and actively implements audit outcomes ,” commented Koen.

IMATU continues to support the Auditor General’s call for improved accountability in the management of municipal affairs. The union believes that there should be consequences for poor oversight, failed leadership and the blatant disregard for legal and financial procedures and regulations. IMATU is hopeful that the introduction of material irregularities and binding remedial action will assist in the promotion of financial accountability and good governance going forward.

The Auditor General correctly reflected in his address that, ‘leadership sets the tone at the top at any organisation. If leaders are unethical; have a disregard for governance, compliance and control; and are not committed to transparency and accountability, it will filter through to the lower levels of the organisation.’

“IMATU is committed to working towards achieving an efficient and sustainable local government service delivery model however, the commitment of our members must be matched by decisive leadership, accountability and political will at the top,” concluded Koen.