Mu­nic­i­pal au­dits frus­trate the ndp

Noga Kobe is the head of pub­li­ca­tions in the depart­ment of com­mu­nity safety in Limpopo

African Times - - News -

What­ever govern­ment in­tends to do for its ci­ti­zens gets im­ple­mented at the lo­cal govern­ment level. Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are the third sphere of govern­ment that are clos­est to the ci­ti­zens. Some say mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are the coal-face of ser­vice de­liv­ery. Govern­ment’s fail­ure or abil­ity to de­liver on its prom­ises is tested and seen at the mu­nic­i­pal level.

De­liv­ery of ser­vices is ex­pected to move with speed at this level be­cause of its prox­im­ity to the com­mu­ni­ties through the in­te­grated de­vel­op­ment plans, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties do not thumb-suck on which ser­vices com­mu­ni­ties need. The IDPs guide mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in terms of how and which ser­vices mat­ter most to the com­mu­ni­ties. So, there is no ex­pec­ta­tion that mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties can stray in its de­liv­ery of ser­vices.

The re­cent re­lease of mu­nic­i­pal au­dit by the Au­di­tor-Gen­eral (AG) does not in­spire con­fi­dence. More than 20 years of democ­racy one would have ex­pected that by now we have mas­tered the art of gov­er­nance and are on an im­prove­ment path. Un­for­tu­nately, the AG’s re­port does not give hope that the coun­try’s vi­sion 2030 will be at­tain­able. The road to­wards 2030 is lit­tered with cor­rup­tion, mal­ad­min­is­tra­tion, fi­nan­cial mis­man­age­ment as well as po­lit­i­cal killings em­a­nat­ing from ten­ders.

The Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan (NDP) can­not eas­ily find its way to im­ple­men­ta­tion if our mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties do not know what they are do­ing. We can­not even come close to re­al­is­ing some of the ob­jec­tives of the NDP if cadre de­ploy­ment is still the guid­ing tool to­wards ap­point­ment in key po­si­tions. Few years ago Gwede Man­tashe, then Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral of the rul­ing party ad­mit­ted that the cadre de­ploy­ment has not yielded pos­i­tive re­sults and there­fore must be aban­doned. It ap­pears he was talk­ing to him­self.

Key to poor per­for­mance at mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties is lack of gov­er­nance. And it is not as if of­fi­cials do not know what needs to be done. They want things to be done in their own way. Ten­der spec­i­fi­ca­tions are al­tered to ac­com­mo­date their friends with less ca­pac­ity against the com­pe­tent ones. Sup­ply chain man­age­ment is the cen­tre of the fight for ten­ders. The Mu­nic­i­pal Fi­nance Man­age­ment Act rules and reg­u­la­tions are ig­nored so that at the end a close friend or a rel­a­tive ben­e­fit. Now, in the ab­sence of high-rank­ing of­fi­cers who are im­pli­cated in cor­rup­tion get­ting ar­rested and sent to jail, cor­rup­tion and mal­ad­min­is­tra­tion will con­tinue un­abated. Take cash-in-tran­sit heists for ex­am­ple. Those car­ry­ing out this dan­ger­ous un­der­tak­ing do so know­ing they might ei­ther die or get ar­rested. Nev­er­the­less, they do it. So what risk is there for a mu­nic­i­pal of­fi­cial who flout sup­ply chain man­age­ment rules?

Now, what­ever the good in­ten­tions the NDP has for this coun­try, the cur­rent state of many mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties does not ap­pear to be a ve­hi­cle through which the 2030 vi­sion can be re­alised. Chap­ter 12 of the NDP talks about build­ing safer com­mu­ni­ties. Ex­pect­edly, po­lice of­fi­cers must play a crit­i­cal role in the build­ing process. Re­ally? And what do we say the Sta­tis­tics South Africa sur­vey tells us that res­i­dents have lost con­fi­dence in po­lice and as such no longer see the im­por­tance of re­port­ing cases. They com­plain of lengthy in­ves­ti­ga­tions and po­lice in­com­pe­tence. Some even say if South Africa had in­tel­li­gent po­lice in­tel­li­gence, we should not be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing this high num­ber of cash-in-tran­sit heists. Res­i­dents will con­tinue to lose con­fi­dence in po­lice when they re­mem­ber how they turned away the par­ents of Katlego Joja who was later found dead. The In­de­pen­dent Po­lice In­ves­tiga­tive Direc­torate told us last year that po­lice bru­tal­ity is worse than in apartheid. And yet the NDP wants us to be­lieve that they will build safer com­mu­ni­ties.

I am not pes­simistic about my beloved coun­try but as for us re­al­is­ing the vi­sion of 2030, for­get it. Pro­gres­sive as the NDP sounds with its in­ten­tions, it needs a lev­elled lo­cal govern­ment field. The plan can­not find its way down to or­di­nary ci­ti­zens if peo­ple at Male­bogo con­tinue to drink wa­ter with an­i­mals and we do not see any­thing wrong with that. Let us shelve the NDP for now and im­prove on the gov­er­nance within our mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

Au­di­tor Gen­eral, Kimi Mak­wetu

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