"We need to ensure that our resources are used optimally"
WITH many of the critical issues raised in the Sol Plaatje Muncipality’s internal and external audit report being outstanding for several years already, a call has been made for the municipal manager to be charged.
DA councillor Chris Phiri said at Friday’s special city council meeting that bold decisions needed to be made. “The municipal manager must be charged,” he said. “This council cannot become a mockery because the municipal manager does not do his job.
“It seems that the management we had in place did not come to the party and bluntly ignored the internal audit. Issues are still remaining for more than four years and I believe that is a breach of the manager’s contract. As custodians, we need to hold someone accountable – we must take control.”
It was pointed out in the meeting that several of the internal and external audit findings had been outstanding for several years. In terms of the sale of leave, for example, which had an agreed implementation date of July 2017, there was still no plan of action in place.
Housing rentals, which were still rated as critical, were supposed to have been implemented by March 2016.
According to the council’s internal auditor, responses had only been received for 30% of the issues raised by the auditor-general in his last audit report. “I am not in a position to give an assurance if the other 70% have been resolved or not,” she stated.
The matters raised by the auditor-general included concerns over the municipality’s assets, service charges, water losses, EPWP job initiatives and supply chain management issues.
DA councillor Phillip Vorster pointed out that while it “was all good and well to have the audit report, it doesn’t tell us who is responsible, what should have been done, who is responsible for the fact that it hasn’t been completed, the reasons for this, for example, is it because of a lack of skills or a shortage of staff”.
“As councillors, we are never given the reasons why it did not happen. The low collection rate, for example, has been coming for the last four to five years but we never get to the point where the problem is addressed.”
ANC councillor Ronnie Morwe said it was necessary for the council to implement its own action plans. “The audit points to issues that resulted in the municipality receiving a regression in its findings and has given us areas that need to be worked on.”
He pointed out that managers should account to council’s portfolio committees, for example the housing committee, to ensure that progress was made to resolve the issues.
It was pointed out that there was a tendency among officials not to attend committee meetings. “If a director fails to attend three meetings, action must be taken. The issue of evaluation must start at the committee level.”
The city’s executive mayor, Patrick Mabilo, pointed out that the audit committee report should serve as a litmus test to determine the municipality’s weaknesses and threats.
“It is important that councillors, like managers, know the risks facing the institution. The current instability regarding the positions of the municipal manager and CFO must be addressed.”
He added that the audit regression was a step in the wrong direction. “We need to raise our game and look at issues like unfunded mandates and excess expenditure on EPWP projects, as well as inefficiencies that affected cash flow.”
One of the areas that need to be looked at, according to Mabilo, was legal services. “All issues are referred to our lawyers, we appeal every case even if it is not winnable. We need to ensure that our resources are used optimally.”