.Image: Flick/SA Tourism
CoJ budget ambitions require high levels of accountability and transparency, says OUTA
The City of Johannesburg’s ambition to become a “centre of good governance” will require more than words if the city leadership is to earn the trust of residents, says the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA).
Commenting on the 2023/24 budget speech by Finance MMC Dada Morero, OUTA’s local government spokesman Julius Kleynhans says Morero’s goal of emphasising “transparent, accountable and participatory governance” needs to be followed up with immediate action.
“Budget speeches, by their very nature, are generally positioned in positive language but if mere words meant action, then South Africa would not have had just 38 municipalities out of 257 achieving clean audit outcomes in 2021/22 as disclosed by the Auditor-General last month,” says Kleynhans.
If the current City administration wants to outperform the previous administrations it will need to achieve a clean audit and residents will need to see and feel the difference in service delivery and infrastructure maintenance.
“If MMC Morero and the administration are serious about transparent, accountable and participatory governance then we need to see tangible action now. We don’t want to wait until May 2025 to find that the City failed the audit test for 2023/24,” says Kleynhans. The city did not achieve a clean audit for 2021/22.
Kleynhans said a clear signal towards better governance would be to publish the scored performance reports of the municipal manager and the managers who report directly to the accounting officer. These employees are known as Section 57 employees as described in the Municipal Systems Act.
As it currently stands, the city is only required to publish the performance agreements of each Section 57 employee at the start of each financial year.
“This serves no purpose if residents do not see the actual scored results at the end of every financial year. These individuals are among the highest paid at the municipality with the performance scores directly impacting their bonuses and their future employment prospects. Making the managers accountable to the residents through increased scrutiny will result in greater transparency and accountability which should lead to better service delivery,” says Kleynhans.
He says the City should make a greater effort to comply with Section 75 of the Municipal Finance Management Act, which dictates which documents must be publicly available on the municipal website, and urgently implement lifestyle audits of all employees who are able to award or influence tender outcomes.
“Fixing the broken City of Johannesburg needs a multi-pronged approach beyond a speech. If the City wants to become a leader in the field of good governance it must be willing to take bold, public steps now. Should it fail to do so, it may lose more residents and businesses to municipalities that can deliver,” says Kleynhans.
A soundclip with comment by OUTA Julius Kleynhans is here.
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