In a recent week-long oversight visit to municipalities in Gauteng, the Select Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Water and Sanitation and Human Settlements raised serious concerns about the lack of financial management within the City of Tshwane. The committee emphasized the urgency of addressing the city’s dire financial situation, calling for effective implementation of improvement plans. However, the committee identified several obstacles to achieving this, including a lack of capacity and skills, especially in key strategic roles within the city.
City’s Struggle to Fill Critical Vacancies:
One of the key issues highlighted by the committee is the City of Tshwane’s struggle to fill critical vacant positions, including that of the chief financial officer. The committee recognizes the importance of this role in implementing the city’s plans and ensuring financial stability. While the City assured the committee that recruitment is underway, the committee stressed the need for expediency in finalizing appointments and hiring competent staff to fill essential positions.
Audit Action Plan Progress and Financial Management:
The committee expressed its concerns about the lack of tangible progress in implementing the audit action plan, which is crucial for addressing the negative areas of the audit. To ensure visible progress, the committee called for enhanced capacity within the teams delegated to implement the plan. Furthermore, the committee emphasized the need for the City to strengthen its general financial management disciplines and implement effective systems of internal controls, underscoring the urgency of appointing skilled Section 56 managers.
Impact of Lack of Ward Committees on Stakeholder Engagement:
The City’s failure to establish ward committees has negatively impacted its engagement with critical stakeholders, including business, households, and government. The committee believes that effective communication anchored on ward committees is vital in resolving cash flow challenges faced by the City. By ensuring residents pay for services, the City can address its financial struggles and enhance service delivery.
Infrastructure Maintenance and Investment:
Another concern raised by the committee is the City’s low investment in infrastructure maintenance, with only 2% of the budget allocated to this critical area, compared to the national norm of 8%. This lack of investment poses a risk to service delivery and contributes to water and electricity losses. The committee highlighted the importance of maintaining bulk infrastructure to ensure reliable water, roads, and electricity for residents.
Addressing Cash-Flow Challenges through Compliance:
To address cash-flow challenges, the committee expressed its support for programs aimed at enforcing compliance and payment for services. The municipality requires improved cash-flow, which is currently affected by non-payment from households, businesses, and government departments. By enforcing compliance and payment, the City can continue to deliver essential services effectively.
Overreliance on Consultants:
The committee raised concerns about the City’s overreliance on consultants and called for the enhancement of internal capacity to save costs. While consultants may be necessary in some instances, the committee cautioned against their abuse and stressed the importance of developing in-house expertise.
Call for a Credible Framework for Coalition Governments:
Lastly, the committee reiterated its call for a credible framework to guide the operation of coalition governments. It believes such a framework is necessary to address current political instability and ensure that municipalities serve the people without being abused for short-term political gains.
The City of Tshwane faces a severe financial management crisis, and urgent action is required to resolve the situation. The lack of capacity and skills, coupled with the City’s struggle to fill critical vacancies, poses significant challenges. To overcome these obstacles, the City must implement its improvement plans effectively and prioritize infrastructure maintenance and financial discipline. By engaging stakeholders through ward committees and enforcing compliance, the City can improve its cash flow and deliver essential services to its residents. Additionally, a credible framework for coalition governments is crucial in promoting political stability and ensuring that municipalities serve the best interests of their communities.