12 February 2013

South Africa: Local Government in Extreme Distress

More proof has emerged from the Auditor General’s office confirming a long held view of this Union; Local Government is in a state of extreme distress.

Auditor-general Terence Nombembe told a conference on Monday this week “Without proper financial statements, the financial stability of departments and municipalities is threatened and the ability of the government to meet its obligations is at risk.

High risk issues included supply chain management, with only 43% of national government departments succeeding in sticking to regulations and only 22% of municipalities getting it right.”

Nombembe went on to say that “the quality of financial statements submitted to his office had regressed, with only 43% of national departments receiving clean audits, and only 18% of municipalities doing so.”

The Auditor General’s comments are the latest in a line of comments and analysis, which found that a mere 13 or 5% of the 283 Municipalities in the country had received clean audits.

Local Government is the most corrupt sphere of Government with the least oversight – which requires national Governments urgent intervention. Most municipalities that have received negative audits over the past two years have experienced violent service delivery protests.

The Auditor General’s office is not the only organisation to raise the alarm with regards to Local Government; the Human Sciences Research Council also released similar damning statistics. These facts support what the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) and its members have been saying – Local Government is not functioning as it supposed to. It is riddled not only with financial woes but also with corruption, maladministration and a lack of accountability.

Even the biggest of Municipalities such as City of Johannesburg, the eThekwini Municipality and the City of Cape Town are experiencing serious challenges with regards to delivering decent services.

Together we must improve accountability and root out the cancer of corruption that has taken hold of Local Government. SAMWU commits itself to improve accountability in the sector and intensify its fight against corruption, crime and fraud of municipal finances.

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