SAIGA hopes local elections will bring more skilled councillors to office

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The Southern African Institute of Government Auditors (SAIGA) says it hopes most of the upcoming councillor candidates who are standing for the local government elections will possess the right skills to deliver sound budgets. But the organisation believes it can help councillors with financial and accounting skills to at least be able to deliver proper budgets and monitor financial reporting.

According to a report released by the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), about 62% of the outgoing local councillors and mayors had been unable to use basic computers to enable the passing of crucial municipal budgets. The report points out another issue that is plaguing the local government sphere, which is poor financial management, with many municipalities being flagged by the Auditor-General 2019-20 audit outcomes released in June this year. Additionally, SALGA found only seven municipalities were doing well, while 31% were dysfunctional, 30% were functional and 32% were in distress. 

Russel Morena, Chief Executive Officer for SAIGA, says the report by SALGA along with the latest audit report on Local Government Audit Outcomes, which shows that local government finances have reached R26-billion in irregular expenditure in the 2019-20 financial year, are perfect examples of the lack of capacity and skills in local government officials. 

Morena says that the R26-billion in irregular expenditure could have been prevented with the up-skilling of local government leaders and implementation of proper financial systems and controls in municipalities.

He says: “Public officials are entrusted with the public resources to serve the citizens of this country. Municipalities are mandated to deliver quality service to the people. It is crucial to note that there is a need for proper financial systems and controls in our local government. Irregular expenditure can be minimised with proper skills and competencies in the structures of our local government.”

Morena says he believes that if you are a councillor at any local municipality, which controls millions of rands, you need to be able to understand basic finance and accounting, you need to be able to get the basics of an income statement and you need to be ethical.

In fact, he says the Public Sector Accountancy and Audit Academy (PSAAA), which is the recognised and accredited training provider of SAIGA CPD and short courses, invites local leaders for a free virtual Business and Report Writing Techniques short course, scheduled to take place on  27 October 2021. 

“This is one of our short courses that helps one develop the art of integrating the financial impact on the Environment, Society, Economy and Governance in communication. Our role as SAIGA is to serve the public interest by strengthening capacity building in the public sector. I believe that through courses such as these the public sector can achieve clean governance and quality service delivery that leads to a happy citizenry. People may register for the free course by sending an email to [email protected], sending a WhatsApp message to 0695387276 or  visiting the SAIGA website on www.saiga.co.za.

“As SAIGA we remain resolute in the stance that our public structures must maintain a low tolerance for financial transgressions or transgressions of any kind as that ensures a smoother running of the country in all respects. We hope we will receive capacitated individuals,” says Morena.

SAIGA will be hosting its first annual conference, themed “Citizens come first”, from 15-17 November. Visit www.saiga.co.za to register. 

About the Southern African Institute of Government Auditors

SAIGA is a non-profit professional body that serves the public interest. Since its inception in 1988, the role and functions of SAIGA have been to serve the public sector and society by advancing public accountability and auditing in its widest sense. As a professional body, SAIGA represents a unique brand of professionals, the Registered Government Auditors (RGA) in the public sector and academia. The RGA is considered the highest professional designation within the public sector auditing. 

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