Municipalities are not only service delivery centres that provide citizens with basic service such as safe water supply, electricity and health services, but are also accountable for maintaining healthy living conditions and bettering the quality of life for communities.

However, reliable and effective service delivery is one of the biggest challenges facing South African local governments, which underscores the need for good governance and adequate resources to underpin the successful delivery of services.

This is according to Munsoft Executive Director Ndiafhi Rerani, who points out that local government service delivery must be driven by robust and effective financial management systems, as well as the requisite skills to operate such systems.

“Poor service delivery in municipalities is caused by numerous factors, such as municipalities not being financially self-sufficient and lacking the necessary infrastructure and resources to fulfil their mandate to citizens,” says Rerani.

He notes that to get municipalities to a better level of service delivery, the following fundamentals need to be in place: strong governance, effective financial systems and support to deliver on the basis of those systems.

Interrelated components

Municipal financial management involves managing a range of interrelated components: planning and budgeting, revenue, cash and expenditure management, procurement, asset management, reporting and oversight.

Financial management is a key element of overall municipal management. It enables the local authority to plan, mobilise and utilise financial resources in an efficient and effective way,
as well as fulfil its obligation and be accountable to its citizens.

“Municipalities work with a variety of services providers and these need to be paid timeously, but at the same time procurement needs to be done in accordance with the Municipal Finance Management Act. So financial systems need to be managed properly to ensure compliance, as well as an efficient flow of funding to where it is needed to ensure effective service delivery,” says Rerani.

“At the same time, municipalities also need the right skills to manage these systems to deliver the desired outcomes. Municipalities thus need to focus on the right skills development and training that would meet their needs.”

Training providers

Accredited training providers can provide a variety of courses and programmes, such as certified municipal financial and billing software training and Standard Chart of Accounts (SCOA) training.

“Municipalities need to be cognisant of the fact that having the right skills and resources will enable them to get their financial and procurement process right. And that is already halfway to getting a clean audit,” says Rerani.