Acting Chief Internal Auditor at the North West District Council (NWDC) Seanokeng Letshabo has expressed worry about some members within the audit and finance committee who never see the need to avail themselves at meetings.
Speaking at a joint training workshop between the NWDC and Tawana Land board yesterday, Letshabo said on many occasions, members have failed to submit annual accounts and quarterly reports on the agreed time, which always results in delayed progress. She said the situation is even made more complicated by the fact that audit committees do not have powers to take action against defaulting members, adding that such powers are only given to Council Secretaries at Local authorities. Should they be given the powers as is the case with other stakeholders in the private sector, she said they would be able to address issues internally, rather than having to wait for an inspection by the office of the Auditor General which is only done once a year.
“To date I have not received any report on final accounts from the committee. This is not commendable because we end up not sticking to the terms of reference that guide us. As a committee, we also have an independent role operating as an overseer and a maker of recommendations to the full council for its consideration and approval, so we need not to be seen as failures”, she said.
Commenting at the workshop was councillor Vepaone Moreti who said the committee should up their game and ensure that council finances are appropriately utilised. He said a lot of damage has already been done on government assets at most council departments because people who are tasked with administering them seem to be unperturbed and do not see their value. “There is need for all concerned parties such as yourselves to make informed decisions which will at the end of the day enable you to execute your mandate in a well deserved manner. As it stands now you are doing little or nothing at all to convince us there will be change in the near future. We are not moving forward as a council because of financial committees which have been deliberately made non-functional by members who cannot reach common goals. So please make sure you run the committee as expected and seek assistance whenever you feel run out”, he said.
For his part, NWD Council Chairman Reaboka Mbulawa said if indeed the audit committee is toothless as it appears, then it will never be prudent. He said it seems even the inventory hasn’t been valued professionally.
He advised that the committee should avoid doing things the traditional way, considering the fact that nowadays councils are dominated by professionals with the much needed expertise to keep their structures running. “This tradition should be broken because it is too imbalanced. There is need for people to brainstorm before going to the draft stage; otherwise we cannot keep on doing the same mistakes over and over again. There is need to rope in experts so that they may spot the need when there is still time and act on it. I also feel that as the political wing, we also need to synchronise and see where this takes us”, said Mbulawa.
The three day workshop is aimed at among other things, to provide a clear role of all key stakeholders, while also appreciating the influence of other players in financial management.