ANC welcomes The AG’s Latest Report and calls for tougher measures towards tackling corruption at the Local Government Level
27 June 2021
ANC Caucus welcomes and deeply appreciates the Auditor General’s report and findings on local government outcomes on Covid- 19 municipal relief funding released at a SCOPA Meeting on the 22 June 2021.
Caucus notes that these findings are a frank account of the AG’s outcomes and their dire nature is not indicative of the spirit of our democracy that values co-operative governance and accountability.
Caucus notes that these audit findings were released in the week our country marks the 66 years of the Freedom Charter which states that our People shall Govern.
It is therefore disheartening that Governance seems to be at an all time low at municipal level where the majority of our people reside undermining the very spirit and essence of the Freedom Charter clauses, depriving them of the levels of security and comfort that the Freedom Charter visualized.
Is there a good story to tell?
On the positive front, Caucus acknowledges the growth of clean audits from 20 to 27 in the current period, especially consistent good performance in municipalities such as Senqu in the Eastern Cape as well as Okhahlamba in the Drakensberg in KwaZulu Natal and Nkangala in Mpumalanga.
- ANC calls for incentives for municipalities that have improved their performance through sharing best practices such as the Senqu and Elundini Municipality in the Joe Gqabi region in the Eastern Cape which through mentoring and skills transfer assisted the Elundini Municipality to improve its audit outcomes.
It is also highly regrettable that 22 municipalities had disclaimed opinions where municipalities could not provide the Office of the Auditor – General with evidence for funds incurred and disclosures in financial statements. It is further disheartening that four of these municipalities did not even provide financial statements that could be audited.
The ANC Caucus deeply regrets that despite harsh warnings issued at the beginning of the Covid- 19 pandemic in March 2020 by President Cyril Ramaphosa repeatedly for the need for anti- corruption and clean governance in the use of funds aimed at combating Covid – 19; these warnings have not been heeded.
PROVINCES MUST TAKE A KEEN INTEREST IN THE HEALTH OF MUNICIPALITIES
Caucus is greatly distressed that notwithstanding supportive measures and remedial action recommended by the Office of the Auditor General in previous findings, including in August 2020 the situation has further deteriorated exarcebated by local government finances that are under pressure in an economy that has been badly ravaged and battered by the Covid – 19 pandemic.
Of grave concern remains are the depressing news that no municipalities in North West and the Free State received clean audits for the 2019/20 financial year, a fact emphasized by President Ramaphosa that local government in North West has collapsed.
AG flags that this was due to widespread non – compliance with legislation, continuation of unauthorised, irregular and fruitless and wasteful expenditure as well as dodgy procurement processes and contract management.
Caucus notes that this worsening situation is a threat to the sustainability and viability of the Presidentially led Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan as a deteriorating local government sphere will chase off the much – needed investments
ACTION BY MECs of COGTA
We further call on the various MECs of COGTA in provinces to follow up with accounting officers and the political leadership of the flagged municipalities to implement remedial action proposed in the management reports issued by the AG without any further delay.
ANC Caucus is highly distressed by the AG’s findings that that local government finances continue to worsen and that supervision and monitoring is not taking place at the municipal level.
Caucus further calls on the Office of the AG to use its powers derived from the Public Audit Act of 2018 to ensure accounting officers take personal responsibility for transgressions occurring under their watch. Certificates of debt against implicated individuals must be issued.
SIU STARTS TO BITE AND MUST SINK ITS TEETH MORE
Caucus is encouraged by moves where the SIU has frozen banking accounts of individuals, their families and associates implicated in wrong – doing and this must be sustained to recover monies squandered even at the local government level.
Caucus further calls on the Fusion centre with Critical institutions such as NPA, SIU, Hawks, SARS and IPID to accelerate its work and redouble its efforts against acts of malfeasance related to the looting of Covid-19 relief funds and associated graft.
THE USE OF CONSULTANTS NOT YIELDING ANY VALUE FOR MONEY
The use of exorbitant consultants costing a billion rands during the reporting period alone has not yielded any value for money as most municipalities continue to ail. Funds spend on consultants have robbed municipalities of much needed basic services in areas such as access to water, road infrastructure and its maintenance as well as other services such as refuse collection and municipal health services.
IMPUNITY MUST STOP!
Impunity continues to be the order of the day whilst the rate of infections is rising complicated by the imminent third wave with its Delta variant.
This impunity must stop. The brazen nature that has been characterized by massive irregularities and acts of misconduct continues to dent the name and integrity of the organization and makes mockery of all our commitments to fight corruption.
ARREST CORRUPT POLITICIANS AND THEIR ASSOCIATES
Noting that Corruption is inimical to development and constrains the ability of the ANC Government to fight poverty; especially during a ravaging pandemic such as Covid – 19,
It is Caucus’s view that corrupt politicians, individuals in government, municipal officials and their associates found to have squandered public funds must be investigated, charged and arrested using all the arms of the law and its prescripts.
27 OCTOBER 2021 MUST USHER A NEW CHAPTER, TURN THE TIDE
The AG calls for ethical and accountable leadership to drive the desired change
ANC Caucus aligns itself with the AG that the tone must be set at the top and these efforts must be championed by the provincial leadership as well as the involvement of Mayors and Councils as well as municipal managers and senior managers
It is the view of Caucus that in choosing the new deployees for the forthcoming local government elections and in memory of President Oliver Tambo and his sterling leadership in the service of the people and inspired by his vision for a government of the people by the people the following guidelines must inform our line of march:
- The process underway to choose new local government representatives must be rigorous to ensure only those that can pass through the eye of the needle make the cut.
- The days of weak, unethical leaders bent on political interference and manipulations of councils for individual benefit must come to an end.
- The current BBGMs and BGMs must elect leaders that will inspire hope and turn the tide.
- The ANC Caucus Task team must continue to work with the COGTA Minister and the organization in dealing with municipalities that no longer serve the interests of the people through an absence of service delivery
- Where ANC led municipalities are found to have been at fault decisive action must be taken.
BATHO PELE FIRST
As the ANC Caucus, we urge all public servants to desist from conduct that undermines the integrity of government and puts the African National Congress into disrepute. Our people entrusted us to represent and serve them, therefore, our actions must be based on the Batho Pele principles.
CAUCUS TO INTENSIFY ITS ROBUST OVERSIGHT ROLE
As Members of Parliament, we will continue to robustly play our oversight role to ensure accountability and compliance to acceptable financial accountability on the use of public funds
Caucus is highly disturbed that notwithstanding measures such as putting various municipalities under Section 139 administration, this mechanism seems not to assist in improving performances of municipalities.
It is within this context that a Caucus Local Government Task Team led by Honourable Amos Masondo M.P. has been established to co-ordinate this oversight role. The task Team is a joint collaboration between the ANC Study Groups on SCOPA, SCOAG; COGTA and the Standing Committee on Appropriations and is led by the Office of the Chief Whip, Honourable Pemmy Majodina.
Issued by the Office of the Chief Whip, Hon. Pemmy Majodina