The Select Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Water and Sanitation are of the view that 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 early on and intervene before the problems are exacerbated.
The committee concluded its proactive oversight visit to three Mpumalanga municipalities and raised concerns that provincial governments have not institutionalised Section 152 of the constitution, which obligates both national and provincial government to support local government to achieve its objectives. The committee has on numerous occasions since its inception emphasised the support of municipalities as a pillar necessary to salvage the local sphere of government.
Regarding the invocation of Section 139(1) (b) in Dr JS Moroka Local Municipality, the committee has committed to verify the procedure followed by the provincial executive vis-à-vis procedure set out in the constitution. The committee is concerned that it has not approved or disapproved the intervention as per 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, unauthorised, and fruitless and wasteful expenditure are both indefensible and morally reprehensible. Laws and regulations are there to safeguard the people’s purse and ensure that allocated funds are utilised accordingly. “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,” said Mr China Dodovu, the chairperson of the committee.
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.
The committee has also emphasised the need to build capacity in municipalities’ financial divisions, as this will ensure the 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.