South African Municipalities Shortcomings in the development and maintenance of infrastructure
The auditor-general (AG), Kimi Makwetu, released yet another set of municipal audit results that show an overall decline in audit results for the 2017-18 financial year.
The Auditor General South Africa (AGSA) audits again identified a number of shortcomings in the development and maintenance of infrastructure by municipalities. These included the underspending of grants, delays in project completion, and non-compliance with supply chain management legislation. Makwetu cited as a key concern “the lack of attention paid to water and sanitation infrastructure”. He says the condition of water and/or sanitation infrastructure was not assessed by 32% of the municipalities responsible for water and sanitation; and almost half did not have policies for maintenance. “It is not unexpected then, that 39% of the municipalities that disclosed their water losses reported losses of more than 30%, resulting in an overall loss of R2,6 billion.” He also highlights that the maintenance of roads did not receive the necessary attention, with the condition of roads not being assessed by 23% of the municipalities responsible for roads and 41% not having a road maintenance plan.
Below are examples of accountability failures on municipal infrastructure:
Metsimaholo – Oranjeville sports complex (Free State) The construction of the Oranjeville sports complex was budgeted for an amount of R21,9 million. The municipality had spent R21,7 million relating to this project, which is 99,1% of the budgeted amount. It could not be confirmed that services were actually delivered for all the amounts paid as, except for a fence, no building structures were visible during a site visit.
Mafikeng – upgrading of First and South streets (North West) The project was completed six months late, mainly due to a lack of communication and coordination between the various role players, including the municipality, consulting engineer, contractor, ward councillor and community. During a site visit, auditors also noticed that the actual distance of road completed was less than that stipulated in the contract. Irregular expenditure of R4,2 million was incurred on the project.
Mopani District – replacement and resizing of asbestos cement pipes in Lulekani (Limpopo) The project had a planned completion date of 30 June 2018, which was revised to 15 January 2019 due to delays in the procurement processes that resulted in the project only being awarded towards year-end. In addition, the municipality did not comply with supply chain management legislation, as the bid adjudication committee that made the award was not properly constituted.
Makwetu unequivocally asserted that the current governance relapses besetting local government could only be turned around if the leadership was to take the lead in the drive towards wholesale clean administration in the public sector.