THE dark days seem far from over for Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale and his executive after auditor-general Terence Nombembe said yesterday it was one of the worst-performing provinces due to a decline in good financial management over the past three years.
The number of unqualified reports from provincial departments declined from 62% in the 2008-09 financial year to 54% in 2010-11, the auditor-general’s report shows.
However, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan will still find it difficult to justify why drastic measures taken in Limpopo were not necessary in the Eastern Cape and the North West, with the latter also showing a remarkable decline in the number of unqualified audits from provincial departments, falling from 80% in 2008-09 to 46% in 2010-11.
The Eastern Cape’s financial performance also worsened, with 60% of provincial departments receiving unqualified audits, from 67%.
“It applies to the Eastern Cape, North West and Limpopo, that their reports are shown to be the worst when it comes to the quantum of negative results,” Mr Nombembe says.
Mr Gordhan’s decision last month to take almost complete control of Limpopo has proven to be controversial, despite a similar intervention in departments in Gauteng and the Free State.
Limpopo finance MEC David Masondo has accused the Treasury of playing factional politics by taking over the administration of the five troubled provincial departments.
This is disputed by African National Congress (ANC) Limpopo spokesman Makonde Mathivha, who says: “Nobody in the ANC has formally said the matter is a politically motivated intervention.” He also says the province’s departments would be holding a lekgotla before the end of this month, at which they would make presentations on their problems, including financial management.
“The auditor-general’s opinion will be considered, and at that stage we will certainly know what the problems are; what the departments were doing to remedy the situation, and what time frames and resources are required,” he says.
While Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape have made progress towards financially unqualified audit reports, Limpopo has generally stagnated and the North West has regressed, Mr Nombembe says.
Provincial governance in the North West seems to have been stabilising after ANC deputy secretary-general Thandi Modise replaced Maureen Modiselle as premier.
The financial management of the province was deeply affected by the disbanding of ANC provincial structures in 2009. But while tension eased when Ms Modise was appointed after the 2009 collapse of provincial structures, the relationship between the provincial government and the party is again strained following the reconstitution of party structures last year under provincial chairman Supra Mahumapelo, creating two centres of power.
North West ANC spokesman Kenny Morolong says the party is waiting for a report from its governance subcommittee and will announce its position after studying the recommendations. “We take note of the auditor-general’s report, but once we have a consolidated report we will be able to pronounce clearly on this matter.”
Further south, in the Eastern Cape, the problem department has been education, with power battles within the ANC’s provincial structures taking their toll on good governance.
The Eastern Cape had the lowest matric pass rate last year and the national Department of Basic Education is intervening in the provincial department.
Not surprisingly, the ANC nearly lost control of the biggest municipality in its “heartland” during the local elections — Nelson Mandela Bay metropolitan municipality.
This was a clear warning that poor governance will cost the party in future elections if not properly addressed, particularly at party level.
Eastern Cape ANC spokesman Mlibo Qoboshiyane says the provincial government is disturbed by the financial mess in the province but believes that “the tide is turning. Financial managers have signed performance contracts that make financial under-or overexpenditure, as well as wasteful and irregular expenditure, an offence,” says Mr Qoboshiyane.
“The auditor-general’s report will be taken positively and our aim is to ensure that such a situation is improved,” he says.
Mr Nombembe says provinces should focus more intensely on leadership, financial and performance management, and governance in order to achieve clean administration.
Article source: http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/Content.aspx?id=162704