DAMNING REPORT ON MUNICIPAL FINANCES: DAILY DISPATCH

THE Eastern Cape Legislature has painted a bleak picture of financial management in the Chris Hani District Municipality, which has a basic services backlog estimated at R4-billion.

A damning report by the portfolio committee on local government and traditional affairs – tabled at the “Taking Legislature to the People” sitting in Cofimvaba – stated that of the eight local municipalities in Chris Hani, none have obtained clean audit outcomes in the last financial year.

The report, compiled after a committee visit to the area between September 20 to 23, further states that only two of the local municipalities have obtained qualified audit outcomes while the rest either obtained a disclaimer or an adverse audit.

The portfolio committee visited Inkwanca, Sakhisizwe, Inxuba Yethemba, Engcobo, Tsolwana and Lukhanji local municipalities.

Two of the local municipalities – Emalahleni and Intsika Yethu – were not assessed due to time constraints.

Chris Hani District has four of the Eastern Cape’s worst performing local municipalities.

Auditor-General Terrence Nombembe’s financial audit outcomes for 2009/10 flagged Emalahleni, Engcobo, Inkwanca and Sakhisizwe as problem areas.

Committee chairman Xolile Nqatha said the issue of poor financial management in these municipalities was detrimental to service delivery and a breeding ground for negative audit outcomes.

Nqatha said auditing of municipal resources should be done on a daily basis and that monthly reports should be prepared internally by all municipalities.

“Failure to do these audits on a daily basis creates great challenges when the auditor-general conducts his analysis and thus leads to negative opinions,” said Nqatha.

The committee called for, among others, intervention from the department of local government to turn the district municipality’s audit outcomes around.

The district municipality, the team found, also needed to find other sources of funding to clear its R4-billion service delivery backlog.

“There is a housing crisis in the Chris Hani District area and most houses are left incomplete, some are poorly constructed, others have no services while others are left unoccupied, providing a den for criminals,” the report stated.

DA provincial spokesman on local government Dacre Haddon said the issue of inadequate financial management was the key reason why so many of the province’s municipalities were failing.

Cope MPL Mbulelo Ntenjwa said municipalities in the district will continue failing in service delivery and in achieving positive financial outcomes if they do not put their systems in order.

“In most of these municipalities, legislation is not adhered to, many critical offices are understaffed and the poor filing system in most impact badly on service delivery and the envisaged 2014 clean audit campaign,” said Ntenjwa. — asandan@