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Metsimaholo gets clean audit despite challenges

Metsimaholo Local Municipality executive mayor Brutus Tshepo Mahlaku says his administration will keep pushing for improved management of the public purse and assets to ensure it is able to keep a clean audit record.

Mahlaku spoke on the back of an unqualified audit opinion that the Auditor General of South Africa (AGSA) issued on the Sasolburg-based local authority’s financial books for the 2013/14 year – an impressive achievement given the instability that affected the municipality during the period under review.

The municipality of about 150 000 people  witnessed during the last financial year a number of service delivery protests and a strike that saw it dismissing last July 320 workers or about half of its entire workforce of around 800 people.

Mahlaku  said the municipality had been able to overcome these and other  challenges to achieve a clean audit thanks to the hard work and dedication of workers, the political leadership as well as staff from the AGSA that never tired from rendering support to the local authority where needed.

He said: “I want to thank each and everyone, from the local politicians, the administration, the external performance audit committee, provincial government and the office of the auditor general for their hard work and dedication towards achieving a clean audit.”

“All (residents and other stakeholders) can now rest assured that the municipality is in good and capable hands,” he added.

An unqualified or clean audit opinion means the financial statements supplied by the audited entity were a true and accurate record of its finances and were prepared in line with regulation and procedure of accounting for public funds.

The Metsimaholo achievement is made even sweeter by the fact that the local authority had received qualified opinions in the 2011/12 and 2012/ 13 financial years.

A qualified audit opinion is issued by auditors when the financial statements of the audited entity contain material misstatements in specific amounts, or there is insufficient evidence to conclude that specific amounts included in the financial statements are not materially misstated.

In a report on Metsimaholo’s books, the AGSA said they were a fair representation of the financial position of the municipality and that they complied with South Africa’s generally recognised accounting practice (GRAP) and met the requirements of the Municipal Finance Management Act(MFMA) and the Division of Revenue Act (DoRA).

The report read in part: “In my opinion (Auditor General), the financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the Metsimaholo Local Municipality as at 30 June 2014 and its financial performance and cash flow for the year then ended are in accordance with SA standards of GRAP and the requirements of the MFMA and the DoRA.”

Mahlaku said his administration’s objective going forward was to ensure the municipality is able to maintain a record of clean audits, adding it was only when local authorities are able to manage their finances and resources efficiently that they could ever hope to improve service delivery and tackle other challenges they face.

“The report will build confidence within our staff while also serving as proof to our communities that the municipality is actually working for them,” said Mahlaku.

He added: “We have strengthened our oversight controls and taken a zero tolerance approach to non-compliance (with financial rules, regulations and procedures), and it has proven to be effective and we have substantially reduced irregular expenditure.”