Municipalities’ spending on consultants has not let up, even as many of the 263 councils across SA spend beyond their revenue. More alarming is that just over a quarter of the municipalities audited were assisted with their financial reporting by consultants, although this is a decrease from 29% in 2014-15 to 26% in 2015-16. Another 11% of the municipalities that received assistance from a consultant were given disclaimers or adverse findings. On Wednesday, Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu highlighted that municipalities spent up to R3.5bn on consultancy services. Such dependence on consultants has been an Achilles heel for many years. This also speaks to the difficulty municipalities experience in getting specialised management and accounting skills and keeping them for the long term. A total of 230 of the 263 councils used consultants of one form or another. According to the auditor-general’s consolidated municipal audit outcomes report, municipalities spent R838m on financial support...

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