The report by the Auditor-General (AG) on the performance of the Mbombela Local Municipality in terms of the Municipal Financial Management Act found damning evidence of mismanagement with little to no action taken against corrupt elements.
The audit opinion for the 2021/2022 financial year indicates that the Municipality's (Mbombela/Nelspruit, Barberton, Hazyview, Kaapschehoop, Skukuza, White River) performance declined significantly with financial statements containing obvious material misrepresentations.
Mbombela's current liabilities exceeded its current assets with R1,68 billion. This creates uncertainty regarding the Municipality's ability to continue as a going concern.
Mbombela also suffered material electricity losses amounting to R259 million, which comprises 24,49% of the total purchased electricity.
The FF Plus is of the view that it is crucial to re-instate the former revenue value chain task teams (water, electricity, finance, city planning, community services and public safety).
Unauthorised, fruitless and wasted as well as irregular expenditure was not investigated to determine whether any person must be held accountable for the expenses.
The FF Plus will apply pressure for investigations to be conducted. The guilty officials must be charged, both disciplinary and criminally, and be duly prosecuted.
No reasonable steps were taken to prevent the irregular expenditure of R152,67 million. Millions of rand is missing from the Municipality and there is no accountability.
The FF Plus will see to it that oversight is exercised in this regard.
The first critical step to improve matters in Mbombela is to implement a process of decentralisation in smaller, community-based management units.
Secondly, legislation must be amended so that the municipal manager and departmental heads can be held accountable effectively.
That is the only way to prevent Mbombela from totally collapsing.
Year in and year out the AG's audit reports indicate serious irregularities, but there are no consequences for negligent and corrupt officials.
Decisive action will ensure that officials are compelled by law to address the corruption identified by the AG in its reports.
One of the powers of the AG is to issue a certificate of debt to accountable officers and department heads for failure to act in cases where misappropriation has taken place.
The AG can also refer cases against corrupt officials to the Hawks, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for investigation.
The FF Plus wants to see this process being implemented as soon as possible so that the public can see that action is being taken.