Senior journalist
4 minute read

Msunduzi’s audit risks ‘concerning’

By Chris Ndaliso

Msunduzi Municipality's audit risk management committee identified 31 top key risk management issues ahead of the auditor-general's report.

Lulamile Mapholoba
Msunduzi municipal manager Lulamile Mapholoba. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

The abuse of municipal vehicles and poor revenue collections are among 31 issues of concern identified by Msunduzi Municipality’s audit risk management committee.

It identified 31 top key risk management issues ahead of the auditor-general’s report. The committee was asked to identify 20 issues, but they came up with 31.

City manager Lulamile Mapholoba said this was a cause for concern, noting that all staff in senior management positions in the municipality, including himself, had a responsibility to put Msunduzi first.

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In a recent management committee (Manco) meeting held by Mapholoba at the Bessie Head Library auditorium, attended by deputy municipal managers and senior management, the abuse of municipal vehicles (which leads to financial loss), poor revenue collection, a number of critical vacant posts, the non-enforcement of bylaws and appearances and dress code policies were identified among the issues of concern.

The interrogation of the issues paints a picture of the effectiveness of the city’s internal audit and also evaluates the city’s management across performance and operational levels. Red flags about other existing risks, including water loss, and various other challenges were raised at the meeting.

Mapholoba said the city needs urgent management interventions to mitigate the identified risks, particularly those with potential repercussions on the city’s reputation.

He said a comprehensive plan would be drawn up highlighting steps to be taken to address the concerns raised.

He said all stakeholders in the municipality are in support of eradicating the city of negative influences.

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Opposition parties

The IFP’s Thinasonke Ntombela said the issues and challenges were not new and had been there for some time, without possible solutions.

These were long identified by the AG and Treasury and they are the city’s stumbling block to getting clean audits, he said.

We have been talking about these challenges for many years but we lack the ability to put in place mechanisms that will bring an end to the scourge that continues to ravage the municipality. We have faith in the new city manager but the question is, can we count on the entire city leadership, both administrative and political, to pull together to turn the fortunes of the municipality around?

“That is the only way that the city can be brought to its former glory. What this committee has identified is not new,” said Ntombela.

The DA’s Ross Strachan said if the city’s senior management are not doing their jobs, then the audit committee should find them responsible and hold them to account in terms of their findings.

“Our biggest problem is that senior management is failing in their responsibilities; no one else,” said Strachan.

Ratepayers’ associations

The Msunduzi Association of Residents Ratepayers and Civics (Marrc) said it had identified similar key risk management issues that the city’s audit risk management committee had identified. Chairperson Anthony Waldhausen said there were more than 31 risk management issues facing the city.

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The major challenge that is preventing the municipality from growing and developing for the better is the political interference and cadre deployment. This has resulted in the many issues that have been identified and growing each time, which is of concern. Marrc identified 84% of correspondence submitted to various government departments and the municipality not being acknowledged or responded to.

“If the municipality can’t get the basics right, then we don’t have confidence in its leadership and management.

“They are unable to prioritise the needs of the people and provide poor services and always focus on vanity projects. These include the R27 million sponsorship of Royal AM Football Club and now they are looking at the Tuskers cricket club,” said Waldhausen.

He said there was a need to overhaul management with skilled, qualified and experienced people.

“The issues won’t be addressed if there is complacency, poor governance and a lack of seriousness to address them head on. We need to have a turnaround strategy that must be inclusive of all stakeholders to take this municipality forward,” he said.

Mapholoba said it was not a “nice experience” that the municipality is under administration.

“The response from all department managers is positive. We will be doing quarterly assessments whereby these fraud and corruption issues are targeted. It starts with us for the municipality to work.

Our municipality must be highly regarded, hence we are working so hard so that our machinery is well oiled. My philosophy is that we must put Msunduzi first. All the opposition parties are behind this vision.