Accounting weekly

What it takes to get clean audits – a case study of Elundini Local Municipality

Elundini Local Municipality, situated in the Eastern Cape adjacent to the Drakensberg Mountains, achieved four unqualified audit results in the last five years. This is despite the ANC run council’s location in one of the poorest areas in the country.   

We spoke to Khayalethu Gashi who served as municipal manager at Elundini from 2007 until recently. 

On the value of stability  

“Elundini has retained their top management over time,” says Khayalethu Gashi, who was municipal manager from 2007 until December 2021. Neighbouring Senqu Local Municipality, which also has a string of clean audit results, has retained their municipal manager since 2000.  

“That stability gives you space as a municipal manager to reorganise your administration to speak the challenges that local government faces such as fighting corruption and accelerating service delivery.”  

On how clean governance isn’t good for your CV 

Despite his track record, Gashi is yet to find another job.  

“[Employers try to determine] how their municipal manager will assist them. Are they going to assist you as a person to amass wealth? Or will they assist you in terms of achieving what a municipality is supposed to do?” 

Gashi says. “If you’ve been schooled in proper governance, you’re going to respond to what the community needs. In the majority of cases, what the community needs, isn’t necessarily what those who are supposed to be ‘handling you’ are expecting you to do.”  

On consequence management  

The Auditor General’s report notes Elundini Municipality improved its recent audit result from an “unqualified opinion with findings” to one with “no findings” in part because it, “effected consequences for the prior year’s transgressions”.  

Gashi explains that this takes the form of a non-partisan committee appointed by councillors who review any breaches of legislation, particularly the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA). “That committee did its work, and whenever we were required to appear before it, we appeared before it. Those who were to be sanctioned were sanctioned. Those who were to be absolved were absolved.”  

On the effect of clean audits 

“You will never have good service delivery if you don’t have clean administration exemplified by clean audits. Never! It’s not going to happen.” 

“People can appear in the public eye to be doing something, but I’m telling you, it’s impossible to have good service delivery to a community without the support of a good administrative service.”