The national executive committee of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) has expressed concern at the weaknesses of municipal credit control and debt collection mechanisms in the country’s councils

The national executive committee of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) has expressed concern at the weaknesses of municipal credit control and debt collection mechanisms in the country’s councils

The South African Local Government Association’s (SALGA’s) national executive committee has raised worry over the country’s municipalities’ inadequate municipal credit control and debt collection systems.

The dissatisfaction follows the release of the 2020/21 Consolidated General Report on Local Government Audit Outcomes last week, which contained alarming disclosures by Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke.

The SALGA NEC agreed to the terms last week while meeting in Kimberley, Northern Cape.

The gathering came after a series of interactions with provincial municipalities on June 21 and 22, 2022.

In light of the publication of the AGSA report on the findings of municipal audits, the NEC met with mayors, speakers, whips of council, municipal managers, and chief financial officers from municipalities around the province.

In a statement, SALGA stated that the province’s member municipalities engaged with the NEC in a way that allowed for frank discussion and provided deep insight into the pressing challenges confronting towns and their residents.

“Like elsewhere in the nation, the province continues to face difficulties in managing and sustaining coalition rule at the local government level. Twelve municipalities with multi-party governments were established following the local elections in November 2021.

“SALGA, in close collaboration with the Dullah Omar Institute, drafted a Coalition Government Framework that provides practical guidelines to political parties and councilors on the formation and management of coalitions in local government” in response to the rising trend of coalition governments since the 2016 Local Government Elections.

Municipalities are urged to learn from the framework, which offers “practical guidance on how political parties can manage such coalitions in a manner that ensures the sustainability of municipalities and delivers the best outcomes for local communities,” even though it has not been officially adopted, according to SALGA.

The group claimed that towns’ financial stability is severely impacted by their incapacity to control their budgets and collect money from ratepayers.

Tebogo Mosala, a spokesperson for SALGA, said it is concerning that only five municipalities in the Northern Cape achieved clean audits while others received unfavorable assessments.

“Some municipalities in the province have trouble presenting their financial statements on time, and this may as well speak to the services those towns provide and their capacity to win the public’s faith and confidence.

According to her, “The NEC advised municipal officials in the province to reflect on the situation of local financial performance, while addressing the core causes of chronic difficulties that call for accountability and consequence management.

She stated that SALGA would keep providing vital interventions like the Municipal Audit Support Programme (MASP) and Councillor Training and Skill Building Programs in an effort to promote financial management capacity building in the industry.

power and function separation

SALGA stated that the decision by Sol Plaatje Municipality to name its Chief Financial Officer (CFO) to the role of acting Municipal Manager surfaced as a major issue during the NEC and Northern Cape municipal leadership interaction (MM).

According to SALGA’s mandate, which is to offer advisory services to its member towns, the group wrote to the mayor of Sol Plaatje Municipality and suggested that the appointment be revoked. It is impossible for the CFO and municipal manager to be the same individual.

“In the interest of oversight, accountability, and transparency, the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) defines and separates the roles and responsibilities of mayors, council members, and officials, and the action taken by the municipality was not in accordance with the financial governance principles espoused in the Act.”