The health of South African municipalities’ finances is deteriorating and instead of taking remedial action, staff at councils are threatening and intimidating the auditors probing their accounts and giving advice, the Auditor-General has said.
Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu presented findings on municipal finances for the year through June 2018 on Wednesday. These charts show the dire state of councils across the country.
Of the 257 audited municipalities, the outcomes of 63 regressed while those of 22 improved. Only 18 received a clean audit and no municipality in the Free State, Limpopo and North West provinces got clean audits. There was non-compliance with key legislation at 92% of municipalities, the highest level since the 2012 financial year.
The majority of municipalities are in a precarious financial position. The Auditor-General said intervention is needed at 39% of councils, which means that they are in a vulnerable financial position and might be unable to continue operating or that their financial statements weren’t reliable enough to analyse.
Municipalities in a vulnerable financial position recorded almost R1bn in fruitless and wasteful expenditure in the year.
The report shows irregular expenditure declined to R25.2bn in the 12 months through June 2018 from R29.7bn in the previous year. That’s the first decline since 2015 but the amount could be higher because 46% of the municipalities didn’t completely disclose irregular spending or revealed in their financial statements that they did not know the full extent of irregular expenditure, Makwetu said.
The Auditor-General was unable to audit the procurement of R1.22bn due to missing or incomplete information and flagged contracts awarded to state officials, local council employees and their family members as a concern. There was uncompetitive or unfair procurement processes at 88% of municipalities, most of which relate to not procuring three written quotations or not having competitive bidding.
Delinquent cities have racked up massive debts to utility companies, including Eskom, hampering the delivery of services. Municipalities owe the cash-strapped power provider R20bn. Almost half of this is in arrears, Makwetu said.