CASE IN POINT | Mogale City
by Valdi Pereira
Mogale City Earns Plaudits
A rigorous focus on promoting efficiencies while at all times ensuring that the needs of its citizens are met has seen Mogale City achieve the first clean audit in its history.
The clean audit that Mogale City received is the result of work that started in 2006. At this time newly appointed Municipal Manager, Dan Mashitisho was appointed to lead a new executive team with the view to transforming the fortunes of the city.
The municipality was facing a three year backlog on the compilation of its annual financial statements - a situation that ultimately also had a negative effect on the service delivery capabilities of the city.
Under Mashitisho’s guidance Mogale City streamlined the organisational structure from thirteen departments to seven and introduced new systems and procedures to improve governance structures and processes.
The impact of these changes was quickly felt as the City revenue base started to increase from R851 million in 2007 to its current level of R2 billion. By 2008 the three year backlog of submissions of annual financial statements was successfully resolved and the journey culminating in this year’s clean audit had started in earnest.
“I think one of the important elements behind the success we enjoyed is the fact that we managed to keep our executive team together during this period,” observes Mashitisho. “It makes an enormous difference when you are able to develop and retain institutional knowledge and experience amongst your executive leadership. Aside from the working dynamics you develop, the deep knowledge they acquire of their departments allows them to make decisions with an eye on the long-term.”
The sentiment is echoed by the City’s Chief Financial Officer, Leslie Mahuma who pointed out that a retention strategy had been put in place in the financial services department to ensure it groomed and developed its own internal capacity.
“We are particularly proud of the contribution our young people have made in helping get the City’s finances back on track. It is also heartening to see young people grow, acquire skills and ultimately become seasoned professionals who contribute to the well-being of Mogale City.”
He also paid tribute to the Auditor-General’s office and the team that assisted the city. “The staff of the Auditor-General’s office is always on hand to offer guidance and support. This is a very important aspect from our perspective, particularly because we have found that there is no special formula to achieve a clean audit. You simply need to ensure that all your statements and financial activities are conducted in accordance with the requirements laid down by the laws that govern our activities.”
From Mogale City’s perspective the following activities were key in ensuring a clean audit:
Sound political-administrative interface.
A strong oversight role by politicians.
Diligent effort by the executive mayor and accounting officer to set a positive tone with respect to good governance
Chief Operation Officer (COO), Abe Mbulawa added that the people element that is required in achieving a clean audit, is something that can easily be overlooked and that Mogale City focuses a lot of energy on ensuring that performance management systems had become entrenched in its operations.
“In this instance it is about more than just introducing performance management systems. It is about getting people to understand the value they can add, buying into the use of performance management systems and abiding by it. In this regard I think we have been successful and the results we enjoy are proving it.”
In fact, the improvement shown in business performance under the guidance of the COO, has resulted in the municipality forming part of a pilot project initiated by the Office of the State president on the Local Government Management Improvement Tool.
Auditor-General, Thembekile Kimi Makwetu who paid a personal visit to Mogale City at the time of the announcement of its clean financial audit, expressed disappointment with the large number of state entities and municipalities, which are unable to produce the necessary financial statements without resorting to the assistance of external consultants.
He consequently lauded Mogale City for their efforts in building their own financial team, putting a retention strategy in place and ensuring they championed good governance and process in all their activities.
“My staff and I have been very impressed by the levels of good governance that have been put in place by Mogale City. I think there is definitely something we can learn from them in the way they have gone about pulling themselves back from a rather dismal financial reporting state to one where they are an example that others can look up to.”
“None of this would have been possible without a high level of transparency and accountability within the municipality and I encourage them to continue along the path they have set for themselves.”
Mashitisho concluded by saying that the executive team still had a number of goals they wanted to achieve, notwithstanding the challenges posed to the local economy by load shedding and ageing infrastructure.
“With the possibility of a Metropolitan City being formed in 2016 in this region, we need to ensure that Mogale City is ready to play its part in future developments. I believe the basis we have laid thus far is a good one and we need to continue with our good work.”