The real-time audit report on the second phase of the flood relief money awarded to KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and the Eastern Cape (EC) under the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) was welcomed by the Ad Hoc Joint Committee on Flood Disaster Relief and Recovery.
The Auditor-General (AG) informed the Committee that the report focused on distributing building materials to beneficiaries whose homes were devastated by the catastrophic flood in KZN and the water supply, water infrastructure, sanitation, roads, and other related topics. The AGSA had kept track in Ethekwini of the work on the water supply, since it was a major component of the initial real-time audit report. The OR Tambo District had been the major focus of the EC audit's attention regarding infrastructure-related issues involving water, bridges and roadways.
The AG criticised the tardy reaction to the flood damage, including the effect analysis and service provision. It underlined the fact that these programmes were still being carried out in settings where there were lax internal controls. Systematic procedural and capability problems and a lack of capacity and insufficient intergovernmental collaboration still persisted.
The AG had also discovered delays in the disbursement of grant money, and delivery issues brought on by inadequate contractor oversight. The problem of non-compliance with procurement procedures and ineffective and inefficient water-tank services continued.
The Committee observed that portions of this report were also included in a larger report that the AG had submitted earlier to Parliament, and which was presently being examined by several portfolio committees. The Committee felt that this second-phase report, combined with the issues for attention brought up by the AG for the Committee to examine, would provide it with more authority when it performed its oversight visits to the particular sectors. The report would also give the Committee the tools they needed to communicate effectively when visiting the impacted communities on oversight missions.
Chairperson Frolick opened the meeting, and expressed appreciation for the contributions of the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA).
AGSA real time audit of Flood Relief Phase 2
Ms Tsakani Maluleka, Auditor-General (AG), presented the report on the real time audit on flood relief in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and the Eastern Cape, and highlighted the shortcomings of local governments because of inadequate skills and capacities, governance failures within municipalities, and lack of accountability. These had been the shortcomings that had affected the way in which municipalities had responded to the floods. She spoke about the accountability ecosystem essential for disaster management, and the special report on the findings in the Eastern Cape and KZN. In KZN, the municipalities had shown slow implementation of commitments, a lack of disaster readiness, the quality of work was not monitored, projects were not managed effectively, inadequate coordination and a lack of effective oversight and monitoring to ensure timely delivery.
The key findings in KZN showed that:
- The Ethekwini Metropolitan Municipality had slow implementation of commitments, lack of disaster readiness, an outdated disaster management plan, lack of effective oversight and lack of coordination to ensure effective service delivery.
- Kwadukuza local municipality had a disaster management plan that was not reviewed, with poor workmanship, inadequate disaster relief funding for response and no road markings or signs.
- Ilembe district municipality had a draft disaster management plan that did not address key deliverables, inadequate funding for disaster relief and inadequate budgeting for repairs and maintenance.
- Ugu district municipality had inadequate scheduling, lack of intergovernmental coordination on procurement and inadequate monitoring and recording of information.
- Zululand district municipality had no findings identified.
- OR Tambo district municipality had non-compliance with procurement processes, information not submitted for auditing, and a slow response to disaster.
The key findings in the Eastern Cape showed that:
- The Mbashe local municipality had a slow response to disaster and poor performance by the first contractor,
- The Port St Johns local municipality had a slow response to disaster and lacked monthly monitoring, and consequences were not implemented for delays.
- The Winnie Madikizela-Mandela local Municipality had a strong oversight structure that supported management, and sound preventative control measures.
- Umzimvubu Local Municipality had a slow response as well.
- Ntabankulu had no compliance with procurement processes.
- Ingquza had not submitted its procurement information for auditing.
- Nyandeni also had a slow response to disaster.
(See presentation for details)
Chairperson Nyambi appreciated the comprehensiveness of the report presented by the AG.
Chairperson Frolick said that the report was part of the broader report tabled by the AG, and was being looked at in various portfolio committees. The information would be empowering when visiting these specific areas and equipping Members to interact at this level.
Mr V Zungulu (ATM) asked if it would be possible for the intervention to be a preventative measure, and if these cases could be submitted to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) or Special Investigating Unit (SIU), as the findings were serious.
Ms Maluleka clarified that the AG could audit only once something had happened, and this audit had been done speedily to ensure that those that run government could respond to the auditor’s guidance moving forward, and that players in the accountability ecosystem played their part. For instance, the involvement of the internal auditors in KZN education, and the work of the provincial treasury in procurement matters, were what would help prevent such situations. There were different role players, and auditors could detect problems only once they happened, and provide insight. Material irregularities were submitted to law enforcement. There would be a table with a full account of the type of material irregularities (MIs) identified through local government audits, and how those were dealt with.
Chairperson Frolick indicated that there was an insufficient number of Members present in the meeting to adopt the minutes, and these would be adopted in the next meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.
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