COMMENT ON EC LOCAL GOVENMENT BUDGET AND POLICY SPEECH: MORE CONSULTANTS TO DO THE WORK

The MEC for Local Government and Traditional Affairs has failed in a general lack-lustre speech to justify to the Provincial Legislature why his department has to increase its budget by 8,8% to accommodate consultants.

The 8,8% increase in the 2012/13 budget for the Department of Local Government and Traditional Affairs to R788,4 million raises alarm bells for the province.

This increase is largely to fund consultants to oversee Operation Clean Audit and to increase capacity in financial management capacity development, internal control and general system management within the department.

According to the policy speech R46 million has been set aside for clean audit capacitation.

While the DA welcomes initiatives to see improved staff production and ability to deliver services via municipalities to the people, this should be done by competent officials.

With the large emphasis on employing consultants some 17 years into our democracy is an admission that many staff appointments in the department have not been done on ability.

With personnel costs making up 78% of the departmental budget for this financial year (R615 million), will this massive increase in personnel costs make a difference to sustained operational efficiency once the consultants contracts have expired and they have to leave the department?

The bulk of this money is allocated to Programme 2, Local Governance, under Goods and Services, which increases by R12,9 million or 44,6 % from the 2011/12 revised estimate amount.

Why are consultants being used when there are staff being paid to do this work?

The employment of consultants means that the department is paying double for the same work to be done.

An employee is paid to do the work these consultants will do.

Furthermore, it will be interesting to see if Operation Clean Audit is achieved in 2014 by default (from the efforts of the consultants alone) rather than from the capability of the departmental staff.

Another area in which the MEC has failed to clarify in his speech is how with a departmental organogram of 3 328 posts on the staff establishment, 3 008 are filled posts and this excludes 400 Traditional Leaders that need to be included in the organogram.

We are informed that in this financial year personnel numbers increase by 124 to boost the organogram to 3 132 persons, mainly again to accommodate the planned appointments of Operation Clean Audit specialist staff into the department.

It is high time that efficiency and capacity within the department and the municipalities in the province are beefed up to ensure that the continuing cancer of cadre deployment, inefficiency and corruption are rooted out of this province.