Auditor-General report does not tell a good story about Free State municipalities

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South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) in the Free State says it is not shocked by the deteriorating performance of municipalities in the province, as the union says that municipalities are used as cash cows by people enriching themselves at the expense of workers and ordinary citizens.

This statement follows a report by the Auditor-General, Tsakani Maluleke, this week which revealed that irregular expenditure in the Free State has increased from over R7.6 billion to now more than R9 billion.

SAMWU says workers continue to be at the receiving end of such expenditure issues, as they often result in employees struggling to access their pensions leaving them stranded and frustrated. Many municipalities are also failing to pay third-party providers.

SAMWU provincial secretary, Tiisetso Mahlatsi, says the situation will continue cyclically due to transgressors in management not being held accountable and not facing the consequences of their wrongdoing.

“What is happening in local government is a deliberate action to defraud municipalities under the disguise of fruitless expenditure, while people are just plainly stealing. The unfortunate part is that ordinary workers are suffering, communities are suffering on a daily basis. With poor deteriorating service-delivery everyday, but people are getting off scot-free,” argued Mahlatsi.

This week the Audito General of South Africa released its consolidated general report on local government audit outcomes in which it gave an account of the financial state of the municipalities in all nine South African provinces for the 2020/2021 financial year.

The report stated that in a period of 5 years the Free State province had not achieved any clean audits and that many municipalities in the province lacked the discipline to submit their financial statements on the legislated date during the 2020-21 audit period.

Furthermore, it stated that due to poor financial management disciplines and in-year financial reporting processes, none of the municipalities could prepare credible financial statements during the 2020-21 reporting period.

“Inaction by political and administrative leadership continued to be a deliberate obstruction to municipalities’ effective functioning. The provincial leadership should be very concerned about this state of affairs” stated the report by the Auditor General.