Ugu’s qualified audit ‘an embarrassment’, says DD Naidoo

Ugu municipal manager DD Naidoo (left) and mayor, Mondli Chiliza have been criticised for their lack of oversight at the municipality.

Ugu District’s municipal manager, DD Naidoo has warned officials who do not do their jobs properly to ‘prepare themselves for the exit door’.

This strong statement was backed by both the DA and ANC, following the hammering the municipality received from the Auditor-General (AG), who last Thursday gave Ugu a qualified audit opinion for the 2016-2017 financial year.

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A qualified audit meant Ugu had failed to comply with some of the municipal finance management laws.

DA caucus spokesman, George Henderson said the regression reflected what was happening on the ground with service delivery.

He commented: “The DA is shocked by the comments made by audit committee chairman, Paul Preston, who indicated that there was no commitment from senior staff members, and that they did not perform corrective action as requested by the committee.

“We want to know why there are no consequences for these people, and why they are not disciplined.”

The ANC voiced similar sentiments. with the party’s spokesman, Selvan Chetty saying there was no doubt that there were issues pertaining to ‘staff synergy, cooperation and cohesion which needed to be tackled urgently’.

“We are particularly concerned with the adverse findings, as well as the reports of serious challenges faced by the management insofar as staff competence and attitude to their responsibilities goes.”

The AG declined to give Ugu a clean bill of health for the following reasons:

* Unable to obtain proper audit evidence that Ugu had properly accounted for property, plant and equipment – stated around R4-billion – due to the status of their accounting records.

 Unable to obtain appropriate audit evidence for payments made, as there were no accurate records.

* Found that Ugu had not followed correct processes to prevent irregular expenditure of some R16-million, caused mostly by the invitation for competitive bidding not advertised for the required days.

* Not undertaking investigations to determine whether officials were liable for this irregular expenditure, and emphasising that leadership at Ugu did not practise effective oversight.

* Unable to obtain appropriate audit evidence on service charges and receivables from exchange transactions, due to inadequate internal controls in the billing process.

Mr Henderson added that the DA agreed with the AG that political leadership was seriously lacking, and that effective oversight and control were not exercised.

“The finance portfolio committee, chaired by mayor Mondli Chiliza, is responsible for the oversight of Ugu’s finances and is required to meet every month, yet five meetings were postponed during 2017. These meetings were never held. In addition, the municipal public accounts committee, charged to check on fruitless, wasteful, and unauthorised expenditure, amongst others, only met twice during 2017. These committees in most other municipalities meet monthly.”

Mr Chetty added that the ANC had formed a task team to look into the issues raised by the AG.

“Mr Naidoo and his team of senior managers have already begun the process of implementing corrective action to improve Ugu’s performance and comply with recommendations.”

Mr Naidoo said he accepted full responsibility for the outcome of the audit.

“This situation is an embarrassment to the municipality, and those who have not done their jobs properly may very well prepare for their exit.”

 

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  AUTHOR
Zimasa Mgwili
Reporter

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