Opposition parties slam ‘half-baked’ municipal interventions

Opposition parties in Mpumalanga have accused Premier David Mabuza’s cabinet of being selective after deciding to intervene in only two of the worst-performing municipalities.

Cabinet decided to dispatch intervention teams to the Msukaligwa (Ermelo) and Govan Mbeki (Secunda) municipalities to strengthen their administrative and service-delivery capacities following bad results in Auditor-General Terence Nombembe’s 2011/12 report.

Msukaligwa was among five municipalities that got a disclaimer of opinion from the Auditor-General.

The others are Thaba Chweu (Lydenburg), Nkomazi (Malalane), Bushbuckridge and Lekwa (Standerton).

Govan Mbeki got a qualified audit opinion.

The DA and Congress of the People (Cope) raised concern during a legislature sitting this afternoon that the provincial cabinet had not intervened in Thaba Chweu, Nkomazi, Bushbuckridge and Lekwa.

DA legislature member James Masango said: “While the DA supports the interventions, it remains a concern how these interventions are applied. Why is there no intervention in Thaba Chweu, which has been getting so many disclaimers over the past financial years?”

Cope legislature member Zale Madonsela referred to the cabinet’s decision as a “half-baked intervention”.

“Is this intervention political or administrative? If the Municipal Finance Management Act says the province should intervene if municipalities get disclaimers, why does the cabinet decide to intervene in only two municipalities?” Madonsela said.

Corporative governance MEC Simon Skhosana said the interventions were purely administrative.

Skhosana said all the municipalities were summoned to explain their poor performances and these two were found unable to fix their problems.

“We’re satisfied that the other municipalities could fix their problems, while Msukaligwa and Govan Mbeki were not convincing,” he said.

Mabuza said in February that municipal managers whose municipalities get disclaimers should voluntarily resign, or he would fire them. It, however, appears that Mabuza is not going to implement this drastic measure.

Nombembe painted a gloomy picture of the financial management of Mpumalanga municipalities as he found that 13 of them, or 66%, received qualified opinions (eight) or disclaimers (five).

Unauthorised, irregular and fruitless expenditure – which Nombembe said indicated a breakdown in internal controls and warranted disciplinary action – cost all municipalities just over R1 billion during the 2011/12 financial year.

Only two municipalities – Ehlanzeni district (Nelspruit) and Steve Tshwete (Middelburg) – retained the clean audits they have been receiving over the past three financial years.

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