Accountability and good governance is needed to save worst audit performer, OR Tambo District Municipality

The lack of accountability and consequences for poor performance and transgressions of legislation will result in the OR Tambo District remaining the worst performer in the country.

According to the Auditor-General (AG) recent report on local government audit outcomes for 2015-16, irregular expenditure in the O.R. Tambo District Municipality increased from R94-milion in 2014-15 to R1 569-million.

We cannot allow that one of the most scenic parts of the province, with huge potential for economic development and tourism, is left behind.

According to a report by the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) released last year, O. R. Tambo District was given the devious title of offering the worst quality of living in the country, alongside neighbouring Alfred Nzo District Municipality.

The IRR’s “Deprivation Index” was compiled with indicators of:  people with no schooling; the unemployment rate; no access to piped water; no access to a toilet; and a monthly income of R1 600 or less.

According to Statistics South Africa, the highest illiteracy rate in the country for youth, aged 15-34, in 2016 was also, sadly in the O.R Tambo District, at 14.9%.

With such odds stacked against it, it is of the utmost importance that the different spheres of government work in an integrated and coordinated manner to ensure that the little financial resources available are used to give the optimum levels of services to these communities.

We cannot allow good projects to fall by the wayside due to mismanagement and poor planning.  Examples cited by the AG, were the Lujazo bridge project, valued at R5.1-million, which was abandoned when it was 25% complete due to inadequate planning, design defects and poor quality work.  The Jambeni access road, to the value of R7.6 million was abandoned when it was 80% complete due to lack of funding, inadequate supervision and poor quality workmanship.  Both projects were in Port St. Johns.

One shudders to think how many such abandoned projects are across the district to make up the whopping total of R1 569-million!

While the Eastern Cape fared third “best” relating to the highest proportion of municipalities with clean audit opinion, at 16%, behind the Western Cape at 80% and KwaZulu-Natal at 18%, this is hardly an achievement to be proud of.

One can only echo the sentiments of the AG, that we must ensure that all unauthorised, irregular as well as fruitless and wasteful expenditure is investigated properly and that those responsible must be held accountable.  This must be driven by the Office of the Premier, Provincial Treasury and the Department of Cooperative Governance. — Veliswa Mvenya, MPL, Deputy Shadow MEC for Cooperartive Governance, Bhisho