Early warning systems ‘crucial for effective municipalities’

Provincial executives across the country must, together with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), develop and implement early warning systems to identify problems in municipalities and intervene before the problems are exacerbated.

The Select Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Water and Sanitation said this after concluding its proactive oversight visit to three Mpumalanga municipalities.

The committee visited Govan Mbeki Local Municipality, Dr. JS Moroka Local Municipality, and Thaba Chweu Local Municipality last week.

The committee raised concerns that provincial governments have not institutionalized Section 152 of the Constitution, which obligates both national and provincial governments to support local government to achieve its objectives.

“The committee has on numerous occasions, since its inception, emphasized the support of municipalities as a pillar necessary to salvage the local sphere of government,” committee chairperson China Dodovu said.

Dodovu said the committee will verify the implementation of Section 139(1)(b) in Dr JS Moroka Local Municipality, as set out in the Constitution.

The committee is concerned that the municipality has not approved or disapproved of the intervention, as per the constitutional requirement, despite the decision taken in January 2020 to invoke the intervention.

“The committee also raised serious misgivings with the inability of the municipality to complete its 2018/19 audit process, in line with Section 126 of the Municipal Finance Management Act. This is a concern, considering the disclaimer audit opinion the municipality received for the 2017/18 financial year.

“Similar to the challenges in both Govan Mbeki and Thaba Chweu, the outrageous amounts of irregular, unauthorized, and fruitless and wasteful expenditure is both indefensible and morally reprehensible.

“Laws and regulations are there to safeguard the people’s purse and ensure that allocated funds are utilized accordingly,” Dodovu said.

The continued breaking of the law and supply chain policies to the pre-audit amount of R717 780 456 in irregular expenditure suggests nefarious intentions, Dodovu said.

The chairperson said the committee is concerned that the municipality’s Public Accounts Committee (MPAC) has not concluded investigations starting from 2017, which negatively impact on the ability of the municipality to discharge consequence management against those in the wrong.

“The committee is of the view that the MPAC’s inability to do its work negatively affects general governance of the municipality,” Dodovu said.

The committee has also emphasised the need to build capacity in municipalities’ financial divisions, as this will ensure proper use of finances.

“The committee will continue to engage provincial executive councils and SALGA until the necessary early warning systems and support measures are put in place,” Dodovu said. – SAnews.gov.za

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