Councils Impede Mpacs Efforts To Scrutize Municipal Executives


Report from the auditor-general’s desk says uncooperative municipal councils are impeding efforts by the Municipal Public Accounts Committees (Mpacs) to prevent the misuse of public resources by mayors.

In its 2014-15 report, the office of the Auditor-General revealed that the local government mayors were protected from scrutiny by councils who are not willing to allow Municipal Public Accounts Committees (Mpacs) to look into their use of public resources.

This has led the Auditor-General to find some public accounts committees unable to hold the executive accountable for how they use taxpayers’ money.

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In addition, the public accounts committees’ efforts to hold mayors to account were also frustrated by “lack of cooperation from accounting officers (municipal managers)”.

“At 24% of the municipalities‚ the Mpacs provided full assurance‚ which is a significant improvement since 2011/12 when only 9% provided full assurance. Only three municipalities (out of 272) failed to establish Mpacs‚ compared to 28 in 2011/12. Mpacs have not demonstrated impact in holding the executive accountable‚” Kimi Makwetu noted

The Auditor-general Kimi Makwetu further revealed that the committees’ work was further impeded by:

  • Inadequate allocation of human and financial resources;
  • The failure of the council to table municipal public accounts committee reports during council meetings.
  • The Constant reshuffling of members or changes in municipal committees.

The auditor-general however found that‚ while councils were getting acquainted with the importance of their work‚ only as few as 26% of them provided the required level of assurance (level of confidence).

Municipal managers fared worse‚ as the auditor-general found that 78% of them “still did not provide the required level of assurance” while senior management at 84% of SA’s municipalities failed to inspire the required confidence.

With councils preventing them from scrutiny‚ its not surprising that 70% of municipalities mayors could not inspire the required confidence from the auditor-general.

Notwithstanding the gloomy appearance of the issue‚ the auditor-general observed that there were some semblance of functionality in several municipalities.

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According to Mr Maktwetu, there are pockets of excellence where Mpacs have managed to fulfill their primary role of confirming the credibility of the contents of the municipality’s annual report for approval or rejection by council.

These pockets of excellence are the result of leadership providing the necessary support to Mpacs in executing their oversight responsibilities.