The South African landscape is one which is familiar with the repercussions of municipalities that do not perform well. The ones most often affected by failure to deliver services in municipalities are those who need it the most, the disadvantaged. To this end, the country has seen the likes of Kagiso Trust and other organisations lend their expertise and resources to assist municipalities to perform better.
Most recently, KwaZulu-Natal Treasury has launched a training partnership with Absa and the University of the Western Cape with hopes of bringing positive changes in the management of public finances to those municipalities that still strive for consistent clean audit reports.
The partnership promises to bring about better financial management through the 25 trainees from various municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal who have completed training. The training, undertaken by the lecturers from the University of Western Cape and supported by Absa Bank, was completed late last year.
The trainees are now armed with knowledge and awareness of the regulatory requirements and legislative framework governing public sector finance reforms and management in South Africa; an understanding and application of different reporting frameworks i.e. GRAP/GAMAP/IFRS; an understanding of how to apply and adhere to accounting records acceptable to accounting principles applicable to their environment; an understanding of audit working papers for annual external audit; an understanding and ability to prepare cash flow statements and budgets; an understanding and ability to calculate different financial ratios; knowledge to interpret and apply financial ratios and perform financial statement analysis; among other things.
Allan Roman of the University of Western Cape said the training programme is meant to capacitate finance staff of municipalities so that they can deliver services better. “The objective of the programme is to improve the municipal financial health so that we can improve the municipal service to the communities,” he said.
Dante Mashile, Absa Head of Marketing and Corporate Relations in KwaZulu-Natal, says: “As a bank we saw it as fitting to assist in the deepening of skills of accounting practitioners in understanding local government legislative framework governing local government finance; budgeting; reporting and management.
Through this training programme we are fulfilling our citizenship responsibility by assisting local municipalities to deliver better services and at the same advance socio-economic development for the communities they serve.
This training programme is part of our Shared Growth strategy implementation where access to education and training is a key area of focus for us. We are passionate about leaving things better than we found them.”
MEC Belinda Scott said the partnership marks an important milestone in addressing the insufficient capacity in financial management in municipalities. She said that if municipalities struggle to deliver services, then government does not work.
“We congratulate the 25 trainees that have finished this training and we certainly need more skilled financial officers to help our municipalities manage our municipal finance systems.
I often discuss with my colleague, MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, that when we have municipalities whose administration we take over, we need to ensure that the administrators share their financial management skills with the municipality so that when they are gone, skills will be left behind,” she said.
Scott said that municipalities do not lack funding but they lack is the ability to manage the financial resources they are allocated.
“This training will have a positive effect in managing the current challenges faced, and we would like more partnerships to help government create the necessary capacity in order to deliver services better to the communities,” she said.
Amended release issued by KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Treasury