Lost by Lim­popo mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties

CityPress - - News - ALICESTINE OC­TO­BER news@city­press.co.za

Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in Lim­popo af­fected by the de­mar­ca­tion merger process have lost R600 mil­lion in fruit­less, waste­ful and unau­tho­rised ex­pen­di­ture.

The ir­reg­u­lar spend­ing was laid out in the au­dit out­comes of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties for the 2014/15 fi­nan­cial year by Au­di­tor-Gen­eral Them­bek­ile Mak­wetu this week.

Vuwani, which is about 150km north­east of Polok­wane, made head­lines af­ter schools in the area were burnt down dur­ing vi­o­lent protests against the re­lo­ca­tion of some vil­lages to the newly es­tab­lished Mala­mulele mu­nic­i­pal­ity from the Makhado mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

Co­op­er­a­tive Gover­nance and Tra­di­tional Af­fairs Min­is­ter Des van Rooyen this week again de­fended the planned re­align­ment of mu­nic­i­pal bound­aries to form a new mu­nic­i­pal­ity, say­ing the process would see 278 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties de­crease by at least 11.

Van Rooyen re­it­er­ated that the pri­mary goal in re­align­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in Lim­popo was to make mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties more “fi­nan­cially vi­able”. But none of Lim­popo’s 30 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties re­ceived a clean au­dit, and most of them seem­ingly strug­gle with fi­nan­cial con­trols.

Op­po­si­tion par­ties such as the DA have warned that the amal­ga­ma­tion of strug­gling mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties would not nec­es­sar­ily lead to greater fi­nan­cial vi­a­bil­ity and ef­fi­cien­cies.

Both Makhado and Thu­lamela mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties fall un­der the Vhembe mu­nic­i­pal­ity and all three had se­ri­ous find­ings made against their fi­nances. The Vhembe mu­nic­i­pal­ity re­ceived an ad­verse au­dit find­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to the Au­di­tor-Gen­eral’s re­port, Vhembe in­curred R205 mil­lion in ir­reg­u­lar ex­pen­di­ture, R258 mil­lion in unau­tho­rised ex­pen­di­ture and R31 mil­lion in fruit­less ex­pen­di­ture. The Au­di­torGen­eral also red-carded the district mu­nic­i­pal­ity over its sup­ply chain man­age­ment pro­cesses.

The Makhado mu­nic­i­pal­ity re­ceived a qual­i­fied au­dit – it spent R78.8 mil­lion ir­reg­u­larly and a fur­ther R4.8 mil­lion was in­curred as fruit­less ex­pen­di­ture. It is not clear from the re­port what the money was spent on, but the Au­di­tor-Gen­eral ar­gued that ir­reg­u­lar ex­pen­di­ture did not nec­es­sar­ily mean cor­rup­tion or fraud had taken place. It did mean, how­ever, that le­gal pre­scripts were not fol­lowed.

The Thu­lamela mu­nic­i­pal­ity also in­curred unau­tho­rised ex­pen­di­ture of R14.4 mil­lion and ir­reg­u­lar ex­pen­di­ture of R1.9 mil­lion. An amount of R480 000 was in­curred as fruit­less ex­pen­di­ture, mean­ing it could have been pre­vented and no value for money was re­ceived.

An­swer­ing a ques­tion re­gard­ing the planned re­align­ment of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in Lim­popo, Mak­wetu said the pre­vi­ous merger be­tween Tsh­wane, the strug­gling Metswed­ing mu­nic­i­pal­ity and two lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties (No­keng tsa Tae­mane and Kung­wini) wors­ened the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s po­si­tion be­cause the Tsh­wane mu­nic­i­pal­ity also had to ab­sorb the debt of these strug­gling struc­tures.

How­ever, Van Rooyen said lessons learnt from the Tsh­wane merger were be­ing taken into con­sid­er­a­tion to make the process in Lim­popo go smoothly.

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