Nhlanhla Nene

Nhlanhla Nene Finance Minister – File Photo

Report shows more than half all municipal accountants are unqualified

According to the report, only 7% of all municipalities are functioning properly.

Nhlanhla Nene

Nhlanhla Nene Finance Minister – File Photo

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene has revealed a shocking statistic regarding competency levels amongst municipal accounting staff.

More than half of the country’s municipal managers and chief financial officers (CFO) are unqualified to do their jobs. These appalling levels of incompetency were revealed during a parliamentary question and answer session, spurred on by the Democratic Alliance (DA).

Incompetent municipalities hurt service delivery

Kevin Mileham, an official opposition MP, was told that only 94 of the 193 accounting officers met the minimum competency level. Nene added that only 79 of a total 218 CFO’s were qualified properly equipped to manage funding and municipal affairs.

The revelation, which has since been covered and discussed by Business Live, has given a grim glimpse into municipal failures which spread the length and breadth of South Africa. Worryingly, even budding metropolises such as Gauteng lack the adequate levels of accounting competency.

The issue of financial management skills has been highlighted by Nene, who has resolved to embark upon a nationwide up-skilling programme. Nene confirmed that part of this process was to amend current regulations, thereby tightening employment contracts. Nene said:

“Not all municipal managers and CFOs in municipalities are compliant with the regulations, which is subject to ongoing discussion, monitoring and reporting between national government, provinces and municipalities.

After extensive consultation processes the minister of finance will promulgate an amendment to, amongst others, regulations 15 and 18 of the municipal minimum competency regulations to allow all officials 18 months from the date of appointment to obtain the relevant competency levels.

It will be mandatory for all municipal councils to make the latter a condition of employment in the employment contracts of affected officials. These amendments will be promulgated shortly.”

Engineering shortage

Co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister, Zweli Mkhize, highlighted the issue of failing municipalities by noting that only 7% were functioning correctly. Meanwhile, 87 municipalities were distressed and dysfunctional.

Mkhize also bemoaned the lack of qualified engineers operating within the municipal mandate, stating that only 55 out of 257 municipalities had engineers leading their technical divisions.