Special unit fails to improve municipal audit results

A SPECIALISED unit to help under-performing municipalities improve audit outcomes has been labelled a failure.

An internal report on the Local Government Department's operation clean audit (OCA) unit indicates that only five of 41 municipalities it supported improved their audit outcomes between 2011 and 2013. It further states eight of those regressed while the rest maintained the same audit status.

Local government superintendent-general Stanley Khanyile said yesterday he did not know who authored the report.

The government has set 2014 as the year by which all councils, government departments and parastatals must achieve clean audit outcomes.

The July report states that "the overall picture reflects that there has been a very limited impact made by OCA on the improvement of audit outcomes of provincial municipalities despite the unit consuming a budget in excess of R100-million over the past three years".

Khanyile confirmed the unit had not produced the desired outcome, but said he was pleased with its "steady progress". "The unit is critical moving forward and we will invest more resources in its operations."

Distancing his office from the leaked report, which has a departmental letterhead, Khanyile said he had seen it for the first time.

UDM MPL Max Mhlathi said the unit was destined for failure as most people employed in provincial municipalities did not have the skills and expertise to do their jobs.

"There is no way these councils will be able to achieve these clean audits ... People employed in critical posts there are not chosen on merit but on political affiliation."

DA MPL Athol Trollip echoed Mhlathi's sentiments. "The problem in improving audit outcomes in the province is not with the OCA unit but with cadre deployment of people clueless about local government. Also, because there are no consequences for cadres who fail to deliver, all attempts to improve audits, including OCA support, are bound to fail." - Asanda Nini