With local government elections around the corner, a South African Local Government Association (SALGA) representative admits that a number of municipalities are “perpetually” getting poor audits.
Speaking to CNBC Africa after a panel discussion regarding re-imagining local government at the University of the Witwatersrand, National Programme Director of Municipal Audit Support at SALGA, Mohammed Lorgat, says there’s been numerous interventions to assist these municipalities yet they still get poor audits.
“Even if you’re a mayor, a municipal manager or CFO, if you’re getting poor outcomes year in and year out, you’ll be asked why and you’ll give reasons but nothing really happens in terms of action. Part of the reason why it’s allowed is because of the lack of consequences for their actions,” says Lorgat.
Lorgat went on to emphasise that unlike previous years, where normally a teacher would be employed as municipal chief financial officers, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) has now enforced minimum competency regulations and qualifications for the job.
He went on to state that the same regulatory process doesn’t apply for the appointment of ministers.
“There weren’t any regulations in terms of qualifications for the current minister of COGTA [Des van Rooyen] because ministers are politically appointed. He does have a local government background because he was also previously a mayor of a municipality so I think he does understand the local government environment,” says Lorgat.
Director of the Public Affairs Research Institute, Ivor Chipkin, who was one of the panellists, says that because of the lack of knowledge, many councillors “very often” concern themselves with issues that aren’t central to the good performance of a municipality.
“There’s a tremendous dissymmetry in knowledge between the councillors and the people in the administration. This means it’s very difficult for them to hold their administration to account. Many of the councillors don’t have an understanding of the technical issues,” says Chipkin.