The recent Auditor-General’s (AG) Municipal Performance Report found that R12 billion was spent in unauthorised, irregular, wasteful and fruitless expenditure across the country’s municipalities. On the back of this, the DA has urged the Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA), Themba Godi, to summon the incumbent Metro Mayors to account for their involvement in this.
The mayors include Kgosientso Ramokgopa from Tshwane, Danny Jordaan from Nelson Mandela Bay, Parks Tau from Johannesburg and Mondli Gungubele from Ekurhuleni.
The report revealed that R3,4 billion went to irregular, unauthorised, fruitless and wasteful expenditure in Nelson Mandela Bay, R3,6 billion in Tshwane, R4,2 billion in Johannesburg, and R975 million in Ekurhuleni. “It is of paramount importance that the mayors of municipalities answer to Parliament in order to satisfy South Africans that there will be accountability and proportionate punishment for corrupt government employees,” the DA said in a statement.
“SCOPA, as a matter of due process, will have an opportunity to interrogate the AG’s report which has shown these astronomical levels of financial mismanagement. The report indicated that it has not been investigated and dealt with as required by section 32 of the Municipal Financial Management Act (MFMA). Parliament is well within its rights to ensure that these financial irregularities that adversely affects service delivery are duly probed.”
David Ross, DA Spokesperson on the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, says that this not only reveals government’s passive stance on clamping down on corruption in municipalities, but also that there is no clear objective to spend state funds on the priorities matters concerning poor communities.
“Corruption undermines priority spending goals set out for each government department and negates the recent reprioritisation of R31.8 billion since the tabling of the 2015 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS). Consequence management of financial misconduct is critical to thwarting corruption and achieving sound financial management across all levels of government and SCOP should take the lead on giving effect to this. Accountability for non-compliance with legislation relating to expenditure management, procurement and contract management, transfer payments and internal audit procedure is needed,” Ross says.
He adds that new or additional spending on higher education, small business development and to assist drought relief are to be accommodated through stringent cost containment measures across all departments and municipalities.
“It is critical that Government deliver on key spending priorities and deliver on additional spending in responding to the vast number of key issues in South Africa at the moment that need urgent financial attention. The reality is deficient financial management practices and corrupt activities now hinder government’s efforts to address the new funding requirements and deliver the basic services our people so desperately need. Much more must be done to stop fiscal wastage as this increases the suffering of the poor.”