Political roundabout hammers Joburg service delivery as AG highlights R3.5bn irregular expenditure

The ever-changing political leadership in the City of Johannesburg municipality spells bad news for service delivery and council oversight duty as the auditor-general found the metro did not take reasonable steps to prevent billions in irregular expenditure.

The municipality has had three mayors in just a year. DA’s Mpho Phalatse first occupied the seat in November 2021 but was removed and the ANC’s Dada Morero took over in September 2022. But a month later Phalatse was back. She was again removed early in January, with Thapelo Amad from Al Jama-ah elected mayor.

TimesLIVE reported Amad’s appointment was temporary until the ANC and the EFF concluded coalition agreements.

Political analyst and Tshwane University of Technology lecturer Levy Ndou said residents would suffer from poor service delivery as a result of political instability.

“What preoccupies the politicians in this municipality is not service delivery but the positions in those councils,” he said.

Ndou said changes to political leadership led to a shift in service delivery budgets. Changes that might lead to projects being stalled.

“Every political head that comes might want their own service delivery priorities, causing a change to the budget. When all these things are happening, the citizens occupy the back seat.”

While fighting over political power, Ndou said the politicians have forgotten their roles.

One of the roles for councillors is to provide oversight in the administration of the municipality. A report by the AG, expected to be tabled in council this month, showed a lack of this. 

The AG report raised concerns that reasonable steps were not taken to prevent irregular expenditure amounting to R3.5bn in the 2021/22 financial year.

It also highlighted a lack of steps to prevent fruitless and wasteful expenditure of R585m and unauthorised expenditure of R1.3bn.

This is an increase from 2018/19 when the municipality incurred R3bn in irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

The AG stipulated that senior management did not adequately implement action to prevent the recurring instances of noncompliance.

“Some of the fruitless and wasteful expenditure incurred by the municipality was not investigated to determine if any person is liable for the expenditure,” the report read.

The AG also found that the municipality entered into a contract with a service provider for airtime and data that was not used.

“The municipality did not utilise airtime and data loaded on SIM cards between April 2019 and August 2019. The noncompliance is likely to result in a material financial loss of R6,428,186 if not recovered,” AG report read.

This report follows another by the AG looking into the City of Tshwane’s financial statements for the July 2021 to June 2022 financial year, which found irregularities, overpayment of councillors and officials benefiting from supply chain processes.

Author: editor

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