Pretoria – The City of Tshwane’s cash flow situation may be in dire straits, but all is not lost, according to Finance MMC Mare-Lise Fourie.
Fourie expressed confidence that the new MMCs named by Executive Mayor Randall Williams were competent enough to turn the metro’s fortunes around.
It was reported last week the City was grappling with a R4.4 billion deficit.
This was recorded during the term in office of the administrators, who reportedly found the City with a surplus of R284 million when they took over in March.
The administrators’ appointments were recently nullified by the courts, paving way for the DA to form a government in the City again.
Fourie said a combination of under-collection of revenue and overspending of funds under the administrators was the cause of the City’s financial troubles. However, she believed it was never too late to remedy the situation.
“We have a huge job ahead of us, but I am confident and my colleagues are experts in many fields so we can definitely do this. It can be fixed … nothing is so broken that we can’t fix it. You just need to do the right thing and you have to do it right.”
In this financial year, Fourie said, the new administration would begin to change the situation for the better.
“In the three years after the 2016 municipal elections we managed to change from a 15-day bank balance availability to a 52-day bank balance availability. And now we are sitting with a 12-day bank balance availability,” she said. Although the City did not owe its big creditors Eskom and Rand Water, she said a 12-day balance availability was not enough.
Unlike Williams who said the City could slip into bankruptcy if no urgent action was taken, Fourie said: “I know the mayor spoke about bankruptcy, but in my view bankruptcy is when your liabilities are greater than your assets.
“The City’s environment assets are huge, so the R4.4bn is not even a drop compared to the asset value of the City.”
Last week Williams said Fourie would be in charge of implementing the City’s financial turnaround strategy.
Fourie said the finer details of the strategy were still in the development process.
“I developed a corporate strategy to look at the financial governance and the corporate level. It links to the recovery plan that we approved in 2018 and how that plan has been implemented. The plan was aimed at restoring financial health and we achieved a huge amount of that,” she said.
Part of the focus on the corporate level would look at the auditor-general’s results, which highlighted the lack of financial control at the municipality.
Fourie would also pay attention to the departmental level, focusing on data management.