Ndlambe scores an ‘F’ again

Another bad report card for Ndlambe

IF you keep track of such things, you will know it’s the time of year when the Auditor General’s annual audit report of the municipality is released to the public.

Ndlambe received its seventh consecutive qualified or disclaimed audit opinion, meaning there were problems with the books.

It’s a somewhat tedious document to read, and the AG’s tone is clinical, but he raises a number of serious issues.

There is nothing earth-shattering as in previous years, but it is worrying that the same problems keep cropping up year after year without change.

Among these are the fact the municipality has still made no provision for landfill sites and still has no idea as to the extent of water and electricity distribution loss in the area, as there is no bulk water meter at the purification plant and no systems in place to monitor electricity losses.

There was irregular expenditure again, but less in than previous years. Irregular expenditure is usually due to deviations from the municipality’s supply chain management (SCM) policy, such as when departments need something in an emergency or their regular approved supplier cannot provide it.

Once the AG has dealt with the items he has identified as the major reasons for his opinion, he details other issues which either give emphasis to the matter, or are just listed without modifying his opinion.

But it is often in this section of minutiae where matters of grave concern are revealed.

One example was that there was an instance of irregular expenditure where the AG said the municipality should have recovered misspent monies from the liable person, as required by law, but the municipality did not do so.

The AG also said the matter should have been reported to the police, but it was not.

The AG also mentioned he conducted an investigation last year into an allegation of fraud involving a “confirmed SCM contravention” amounting to R1.1-million.

In another deviation from the SCM policy, the municipality procured goods and services worth more than R200 000 without inviting competitive bids. The AG said Ndlambe was in contravention of SCM regulations.

The AG is one of the instruments of government that actually works, and must be commended, but unfortunately his role is limited to pointing out problems with a municipality’s finances and there are no real consequences.

The AG also provides very little historical context in his reports, thus a municipality can get slapped on the wrist year after year in qualified audits, without reference to previous dismal performances.

– Jon Houzet

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