kimi_makwetu The Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (IMATU) is extremely disappointed by the lack of improvement displayed by municipalities, in the 2015-16 local government audit outcomes report, released earlier today.

In his report Auditor General, Kimi Makwetu, explained that 40 of the municipalities with clean audit opinions in the previous financial year (2014-15) obtained this outcome again. 14 municipalities lost their clean audit status and only nine municipalities moved into this category, resulting in an overall decrease in municipalities with clean audit opinions. The report highlights a number of basic controls that municipalities need to improve on including; good governance, ethical leadership, accurate record-keeping, legislative compliance, filling of vacancies and the following through on audit action plans.

“The Auditor General’s findings mirror the very same issues that we are trying to address on the ground. Every year our members 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 issues continue to go unaddressed,” commented IMATU General Secretary, Johan Koen.

The Auditor General further stressed the importance of appropriate planning around the needs of the communities that local government serves, as well as instituting appropriate fiscal controls and operating within the necessary legal frameworks governing service delivery. IMATU is in agreement with the Office of the Auditor General that there must be consequences for mismanagement and non-performance.

“It is alarming to note that irregular expenditure within the municipal sector has increased to just over 50%, ‘the highest since we started tracking the values’. Employers always plead poverty when it comes time to negotiate fair wage increases for our members, however, no one is held responsible for a staggering R16.81 billion loss in irregular expenditure. While IMATU acknowledges that this full amount does not necessarily represent wastage and fraud, the Auditor General is clear in his belief that local government’s inability to manage irregular expenditure and ensure accountability directly affects increasingly poor audit outcomes,” commented Koen.

IMATU also notes that the Auditor General has recommended investigations at a number of municipalities. IMATU will closely monitor whether municipal council’s in fact implement these recommendations and council’s will be required to explain their failures, should they not conduct such investigations.

IMATU strongly believes that further 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 provides strong leadership.

“IMATU strongly supports the Auditor General’s call for improved accountability in the management of municipal affairs. We are 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.