This is not a paywall.

Register for free to continue reading.

We made a promise to you that we’ll never erect a paywall and we intend to keep that promise. We also want to continually improve your reading experience and you can help us do that by registering with us. It’s quick, easy and will cost you nothing.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish up registering with us:

Please enter your password or get a login link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for registering.

First Thing, Daily Maverick's flagship newsletter

Join the 230 000 South Africans who read First Thing newsletter.

We'd like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick

More specifically, we'd like those who can afford to pay to start paying. What it comes down to is whether or not you value Daily Maverick. Think of us in terms of your daily cappuccino from your favourite coffee shop. It costs around R35. That’s R1,050 per month on frothy milk. Don’t get us wrong, we’re almost exclusively fuelled by coffee. BUT maybe R200 of that R1,050 could go to the journalism that’s fighting for the country?

We don’t dictate how much we’d like our readers to contribute. After all, how much you value our work is subjective (and frankly, every amount helps). At R200, you get it back in Uber Eats and ride vouchers every month, but that’s just a suggestion. A little less than a week’s worth of cappuccinos.

We can't survive on hope and our own determination. Our country is going to be considerably worse off if we don’t have a strong, sustainable news media. If you’re rejigging your budgets, and it comes to choosing between frothy milk and Daily Maverick, we hope you might reconsider that cappuccino.

We need your help. And we’re not ashamed to ask for it.

Our mission is to Defend Truth. Join Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Local government graft: Blame it on the Excel spreadshe...

Business Maverick


Local government graft: Blame it on the Excel spreadsheets

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

What happens when you mix ANC cadre deployment with Excel spreadsheets? Looks like corruption and wasteful spending.

Local government in South Africa has become a joke and one that would be funny if the consequences were not so dire. The phrase “service delivery protest” is a South Africanism that speaks to this problem and its scale. Even if you are young, unemployed and bored, some motivation is needed to throw a brick or burn tyres on the road. Whether it is raw sewage befouling the Vaal or potholes that could swallow a buffalo, or monstrous arrears to Eskom, the stench will lead to the local government offices, some of which are quite plush.

In a statement on Wednesday, the National Treasury traced the scent to Excel spreadsheets.

“A large number of municipalities are not budgeting, transacting and reporting directly in or from their core financial systems. Instead, they prepare their budgets and reports on Excel spreadsheet and then import the Excel spreadsheets into the system,” it said.

“Often this manipulation of data leads to unauthorised, irregular, fruitful and wasteful (UIFW) expenditure and fraud and corruption as the controls that are built into the core financial systems are not triggered and transactions go through that should not.”

Spreadsheets are the elixir of the accounting world, and one would have thought they would boost transparency. Then again, auditors also have had a rough go of it of late. Many spreadsheets must have been used to cook the Steinhoff books.

Another problem is that municipalities are not “locking in” their budgets at the end of the month as required. Officials are adept at spreadsheets it seems, but not time management. 

“Municipalities are not locking their adopted budgets or their financial systems at month-end to ensure prudent financial management. To enforce municipalities to lock their budgets and close their financial system at month-end in 2020/21, the Local Government Portal will be locked at the end of each quarter. System vendors were also requested to build this functionality into their municipal financial systems,” the National Treasury said.

It remains to be seen if this will help address the issue. But getting municipalities to follow the basic rules of governance seems as good a place to start as any. The National Treasury itself has quite a solid reputation on the governance front. A top-down approach seems to be the order of the day. DM/BM


Comments - share your knowledge and experience

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or sign in if you are already an Insider.

Everybody has an opinion but not everyone has the knowledge and the experience to contribute meaningfully to a discussion. That’s what we want from our members. Help us learn with your expertise and insights on articles that we publish. We encourage different, respectful viewpoints to further our understanding of the world. View our comments policy here.

All Comments 3

  • Apart from some well-run municipalities in the Western Cape, all non-ANC run, the ANC is slowly but surely running municipalities to the ground, which of course has a devastating impact on service delivery. And still the masses support them. Toy, toying has simply no impact anymore.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted