A mere eight of the 39 municipalities in the Eastern Cape have permanent Chief Financial Officers (CFOs), who meet the minimum requirements for their posts.
“Unqualified CFOs not only result in qualified audits but open the flood gates for corruption,” says Bobby Stevenson (MPL), DA Eastern Cape Shadow MEC of Finance.
“In a response to a parliamentary question, Finance MEC of the Eastern Cape Oscar Mabuyane said 25 CFOs had not met the minimum competency as at July 2018.
“It is no wonder local government is in a mess, with some municipalities facing Eskom cut offs and collapsing service delivery.”
Stevenson said that increasingly people are resorting to violence as they burn with frustration by setting fire to municipal facilities.
“Mabuyane also points out that six municipalities, Intsika Yethu, Sakhisizwe, Walter Sisulu, Ingquza Hills, Port St Johns and Makana municipalities do not have permanent CFOs.
“A lack of skills at municipal level means that service delivery is compromised. The scarcity of financial management skills is clearly apparent in the number of qualified audits for the province, as compiled by the auditor-general,” he described.
Only 5% of municipalities managed to receive clean audits
Stevenson added that the latest available MFMA report, for the 2016/17 financial year, shows that just 5% of the province’s municipalities received a clean audit, down from just 20% for the previous period.
“The auditor-general stated that irregular expenditure increased due to instability, disregard for laws and regulations, and the absence of solid internal controls.
“Municipal leadership did not heed numerous warnings from the AG about how changes in administration and failure to fill vacancies would have a negative impact on accountability,” he explained.
“These minimum requirements, which include minimum higher education qualifications; work related experience and core managerial and occupational competencies, were introduced to professionalise the local government sector and mitigate some of the root causes of poor financial management and service delivery.
“Clearly this is not happening.”
Stevenson said that it should come as no surprise that the AG has raised concerns about the financial sustainability of 24 municipalities in the province.
“While the responsibility lies with the municipalities and their respective municipal councils to address any failure by officials to attain the required minimum competency levels, provincial government needs to hold these municipalities to account,” he described.
“Without the proper financial management, basic service delivery is severely hampered and looting is enhanced.”
In the previous financial year, Kouga received an unqualified audit.