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​The Municipal Public Accounts Committee has drawn up recommendations for the City to ensure it follows good governance procedures.
RECOMMENDATIONS to help the City better manage its finances and improve service delivery have been tabled by the Municipal Public Accounts Committee (MPAC).

Scelo Gcabashe (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)MPAC chairperson Scelo Gcabashe (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)The MPAC performs a watchdog function over legal and policy compliance and service delivery in the City. Established in 2007, its focus is on City financial governance, including its municipal entities.

The committee derived its findings from the City’s annual report of 2010/11, which were discussed by the chairperson of the MPAC, Scelo Gcabashe, at a media briefing at Metro Centre on 4 April. The findings were tabled and adopted by the council at its last meeting.

Pointing out various issues, Gcabashe said the City’s supply chain management (SCM) needed urgent intervention as it could compromise good governance. “The fact that the City is able to do business with its own staff is due to SCM weaknesses.”

Delays in paying service providers were also blamed on the poor SCM, while the high number of irregularities was cause for concern. In total, the committee found 49 irregular expenditures. Gcabashe a recommended that credit control policies be attended to as soon as yesterday to minimise outstanding debts and to increase revenue.

“The City of Johannesburg MPAC has vowed to uphold the principles of good governance by ensuring transparency, accountability and value for money when it comes to utilisation of City funds,” he said, adding that the committee was committed to helping the City achieve the national initiative of Operation Clean Audits 2014.

In drawing up its report, the committee consulted various stakeholders, including the Office of the Auditor-General, the City manager and section 79 committees to collect information and seek clarity. It also sought public comment.

Gcabashe said the MPAC was committed to upholding good governance by ensuring transparency, accountability and value for money regarding the use of City funds.

The much-discussed billing crisis was also on the list of issues it researched. “On the billing system, the customers must receive accurate bills to eliminate queries,” said Gcabashe.

A municipal information management system was deemed vital to ensure that records were up to date and readily available when they were needed. “Rendering quality services is hindered by individuals who manipulate the system for their own selfish reasons and gains,” he said.

The council was expected to implement corrective measures as recommend by the MPAC to ensure that the issues did not recur. Furthermore, the committee would meet heads of departments at an in-year monitoring meeting.

In another revelation, Gcabashe pointed out that many City councillors had not paid for municipal services. “For example, arrears by councillors outstanding for more than 90 days amounting to R1-million were reported for the 2010/11 financial year. Of this amount, R301 084 was owed to the City by one councillor,” he said.

The MPAC would approach the Office of the Chief Whip to plan a way to collect1 this revenue.

It was also not shy to talk about the City’s qualified audit report of 2010. It reported that issues that led to the qualified report of 2010/11 were related to but differed from those in the previous financial years. This meant that the City had improved.

Moving forward, the MPAC urged City management to adhere to “General Municipal Accounting Practices combined with Generally Recognised Practices and provisions of the Municipal Finance Management Act”.

It had tabled several recommendations to the council as measures to rectify the City’s future audits reports. The council approved the recommendations, among which were that:

The executive mayor should take all reasonable steps to ensure annual reports tabled before the council are complete and final documents;
The accounting officer must comply with the auditor-general’s time frames;
The accounting officer must report quarterly to the MPAC on actions taken to ensure that the City met the national target of Operation Clean Audit;
The accounting officer must report bi-monthly to the MPAC progress made in the implementation of the billing roadmap;
City Power must submit a report providing a breakdown of contributing factors leading to electricity loss by the MPAC meeting of April 2012;
The accounting officer must submit a report to the MPAC meeting of May 2012 explaining the gross loss of R66 938 000;
The Johannesburg risk and audit services must institute an investigation into the Johannesburg Social Housing Company regarding R575 000 spent on evicting four defaulters;
The accounting officer must submit a report on employees identified to have contravened regulations 13 and 14 of the SCM regulations; and,
The accounting officer must submit to the MPAC clear measures across departments to ensure compliance with section 65(2)(e) of the Municipal Finance Management Act.
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