Share this article

The municipal public accounts committee, a pilot project for the province, keeps an eye on the City and how it spends its money.

Johannesburg is the only municipality in the country to have a municipal public accounts committee. This committee provides political oversight over the financial governance of the City.

Its functions include providing oversight over the financial statements of the City and municipal-owned entities; providing oversight over the City's annual report; and monitoring expenditure in terms of the budget allocation for service delivery and performance.

The committee has the right to request any member of staff or board member of these entities to attend meetings. It can also request any councillor to attend meetings.

"This is a pilot project for the Gauteng legislature," says Themba Dhlamini, the assistant director of communication for finance, public accounts and economic development in the City.

At the moment it is trial and error, with no particular guidelines, the idea being to build best practice, he says.

"We have gone on study visits to parliament. We are looking for something in the middle."

The Joburg committee is made up of 17 people with a mix of qualifications and experience, and a mix of political parties.

Dhlamini says it meets once a month generally, and compiles annual reports. Public comments are obtained, and the report is submitted to the public accounts committee. This committee then develops a draft oversight report, which is taken to the council for approval.

Once this report is adopted, it becomes the City's oversight report, says Dhlamini.

On a national level, its equivalent is the standing committee on public accounts, or Scopa. This committee acts as a watchdog over the way taxpayers' money is spent by the executive in parliament.

The auditor-general tables reports every year on the accounts and financial management of the various government departments and state institutions. Heads of these bodies are regularly called to account by this committee, and if recommended, the National Assembly can take corrective actions against a department or institution.

At the recent Association of Public Accounts Committees conference in Cape Town, Sicelo Shiceka, the minister for co-operative government and traditional affairs, gave municipalities until December to set up such committees.

The requirement to set up these committees is an effort to obtain clean municipal audits across the country's 283 municipalities.

Related stories:

City raises R758m in bond issue
City holds credit rating steady
Strong budget in tight times
Joburg aims for 9% growth by 2014
Jozi gets second clean audit report
Joburg is the best in the country
Jozi scores big, again
A year of greats for Joburg