Isaac Mangena: If I were doing Auditor-General Terence Nombembe’s job I would be very angry and demoralised about dishing out the same warnings to local governments over the dismal performance of their municipalities every year.
This week was another of those when Nombembe told us how financial management had degenerated over the past three years and irregular expenditure rose from R6 billion in 2010 to R10 billion. He also reminded us how rife corruption is — “beyond tolerable levels”. The reasons for this range from irregular tender processes to poor financial management. Our government led by the ANC should be worried because clearly something is wrong with our local government system if five of our nine provinces (including Gauteng and North West) fail to produce clean audits. Something is wrong if just 13 of our 283 municipalities receive clean audits.
Even worse is when eight metros, including Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, which are considered well-off with resources and the right people to do the job, fail to impress. But why should Nombembe, or even the public, be surprised by these revelations? They just magnify the embedded rot that is known to be there at local government level. It exposes the incompetence, lack of proper skills, lack of oversight by senior provincial and national leaders, lack of accountability by senior managers, corruption and maladministration, most of which have been identified in the government’s monitoring and frequent presidential visits, but nothing was done.
Maybe we need another monitoring unit to monitor the one appointed a few months ago. The truth is that the government cannot start crying now when it’s all written in the service delivery memoranda every day. The ANC should have raised the alarm when it started to get rejected by the electorate at the local government polls. People cannot be fooled forever. It seems these officials are a law unto themselves. Nombembe highlighted that mayors and local councillors in most of the municipalities that didn’t receive clean audits were warned before, and their reluctance or refusal to act on recommendations and intervention strategies from previous audits led to where we are now. But it cannot all be left to the auditor-general alone to deal with…
Read the rest of Isaac Mangena’s opinion on the state of South African municipalities at Thought Leader.