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Tuesday Oct 04, 2011

Joburg has most expensive staff, but admin and delivery problems are ongoing

The City of Joburg hires twice as many top managers as any other metro and accounts for two-fifths of all metro spending on top managers in the entire country.

The City of Cape Town manages a budget slightly bigger than Joburg's, but needs less than half the managers.

Joburg's bill for the top brass is bigger than the same bills combined for the next three biggest metro spenders - eThekwini, Cape Town and Nelson Mandela Bay.

The details are in the Treasury's recent Local Government Expenditure and Budgets Review. The spending is for the municipal financial year which ended in June last year.

Joburg pays four of its top 40 staff each more than R2 million a year, and another 30 have annual salaries of R1m, excluding bonuses.

Joburg's highest paid official is the head of City Power, followed by the chief financial officer, the head of Joburg Water and the city manager.

Those top 40 staff were together paid nearly R59m in 2009/10. That included more than R5m paid in bonuses in total to the top 40. The bonuses were paid out in 2009/10 to 37 of the 40 but were delayed payments for work done during 2008/9 so they may have been paid to different people due to staff turnover.

Some of Joburg's top staff are in acting positions and changes are expected as contracts which were linked to the former mayor's term of office expire. One post listed in the report no longer exists.

The Treasury lists as filled posts two unnamed directors in the city manager's office and two heads of the mayor's office (each paid more than R1m), but these do not appear on the city's organogram and The Star could not establish who filled three of these posts.

Excluding bonuses, eThekwini pays one official, the municipal manager, more than R2m. The remaining 13 all get more than R1m.

Ekurhuleni pays 13 of its 18 top officials more than R1m each, Tshwane pays 13 of its 14 top officials more than R1m each, Cape Town pays 13 of its 14 top officials more than R1m each, and Nelson Mandela Bay pays its 13 top officials more than R1m each.

Including bonuses, Ekurhuleni spent the least of any metro on its top staff, about half of Tshwane, Cape Town or Nelson Mandela Bay's expenditure. Joburg spent six times more than Ekurhuleni.

Although Nelson Mandela Bay has the smallest municipal budget by far, its total spending on its top officials is on a par with Tshwane and Cape Town.

And while Joburg has the biggest and most expensive top staff structure, the metro has had ongoing administration and delivery problems. It is also the metro with the biggest debt.

September statistics on money owed to municipalities shows Joburg top of the list, with the metro owed R12.1 billion. It was followed by Ekurhuleni (owed R9bn), Cape Town (R5.8bn), eThekwini (R4.6bn), Tshwane (R3.8bn) and Nelson Mandela Bay (R1.4bn).

The city had a qualified audit for 2009/10, blamed largely on the migration of data to the problematic centralised billing system.

The Auditor-General report said the city did not ensure that revenue was billed correctly.

Joburg Water and City Power also got qualified audits.

A recent report to council by the municipal accounts committee on 2009/10 finances notes that the city “spends millions of rand every financial year on interest and penalties to South African Revenue Services (Sars)”. The committee report said the annual report for 2009/10 wasn't ready for council in the prescribed timeframe and the qualified audit raised questions on the competence of finance officials.

The qualified audit noted R743m in billing errors over property rates and values; city officials claimed the error involved R1.2m.

The city lost R15m to fraud in 2009/10 and faced claims totalling R171m.

The billing crisis is still not over. Related to this, the call centre had such problems that last year the city spent millions setting up a new call centre; complaints from residents have reduced but are ongoing.

Residents also complain endlessly about potholes.

Labour relations are an ongoing headache with disruptions - partly arising from wage disputes but also often blamed on failure to address management problems, corruption allegations, privatisation and in-fighting - in Pikitup, Metrobus, Rea Vaya and the emergency services.

Unions threatened disruptions at the Joburg metro police this year, partly because R30m in licensing money that went missing three years ago could still not be found.

Housing targets have not been met - the city planned 100 000 units over five years but expects to provide only 80 percent due to lack of money (the housing budget was slashed to R48m in 2009/10, which was considerably less than it spent on its top management).

The backlog is about 400 000 units.

The Star


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