Councillors to ensure that the right people were appointed, while those who needed training received it.
THERE is no doubt that the poor state of municipal finances in several councils across the country is directly linked to the employment of unqualified and incompetent finance managers.
While there are many other factors that have led to the collapse of many municipalities, having chief financial officers that lack the required skills ranks among the most important reasons for the current state of affairs.
The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica) made this revelation recently.
In their research, released last week, they called on councillors to ensure that the right people were appointed, while those who needed training received it.
According to Saica, KwaZulu-Natal has 54 municipalities and 41 chief financial officers, and only 11 of them are qualified to do the job.
Nationally, the picture is also very concerning.
Saica found that out of 257 municipalities, 218 had chief financial officers and only 70 met the minimum competency requirements. This is a dire state of affairs, and intervention measures are required urgently.
Local government is at the coalface of service delivery, and keeping people in positions they are not qualified for will lead to many municipalities being placed under administration and service delivery protests will worsen.
The new minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, should prioritise this matter. Finance officers who are found wanting should be given a time frame to up-skill themselves and failure to do so should lead to automatic dismissal.
Dlamini Zuma should also ensure that all municipalities that have been placed under administration – such as Umsunduzi in Pietermaritzburg, Escort, Mooi River and Richmond – begin to employ chief financial officers who are highly qualified to put their councils on sound financial footing.
Lastly, Dlamini Zuma’s biggest task in her new position would be to put a stop to cadre deployment as it is the main reason the entire country is in this predicament.