By: Andrew Kathindi
The Keetmanshoop executive management has blamed challenges of understaffing for an adverse audit report opinion from the auditor general for the 2016/2017 financial year.
This was said at a public hearing by the national council standing committee on public accounts chaired by National Unity Democratic Organisation (NUDO) ’s Peter Kazongominja.
“From the finance department, we are challenged. We are not fully staffed. We are not fully staffed. There is a lack of qualified staff members. We have now submitted a proposed staff organogram to our line ministry. We submitted it last year, and we are still waiting to hear from the ministry,” argued Keetmashoop CEO Desmond Basson.
According to Basson, it has been challenging for the municipality to send staff to Windhoek for a week to get training, whilst there is a lot of work expected from them daily in the southern town. “So, we try to do [training] in-house.”
When Kazongominja quizzed why the management had not approached the auditor general’s office to provide training for staff, which he said was available to public accountants, Basson could, however, not answer for.
According to the town’s senior financial manager, the town has 21 financial department staff members, including accountants, meter readers, and debt staff.
He also blamed a change from one financial system to another as a cause of problems.
According to the auditor general Junias Kandjeke, the financial statements Keetmashoop presented for the 2016/2017 financial year did not give that financial year’s financial position.
The adverse audit report also found that the municipality does not have an acceptable reporting framework, and no cashflow statement was prepared.
The audit report also found that leave pay provisions were understated by N$1,229,239.
According to Basson, the discrepancies came after the municipality made their calculations on 25 days, while they require that it be for 40 days.
“Once you have made submitted the financial statement and realize later on that you made an error here, you cannot change it. We realized that there was such a difference, but we could not make the change. But we know where the difference is coming from.”
Although the auditor general’s damning report found that loans for the controversial Build Together were overstated by N$614,821, financial manager Farmer said this was caused due to differences in lists with the line ministry.
“Even with the last two audits before 2021, when we were sitting down with the auditors, we looked at the list that was coming from the ministry’s time. They have never amended that list to what the reality was on the ground, in terms of what the municipality inherited in terms of loan beneficiaries,” she told the standing committee on public accounts.
The report also found that no supporting documents were provided for any loans on the Build Together listing.
“That list is now looking completely different. We now confirmed the number of Build Together beneficiaries that received the loans.”
She, however, confirmed that the overstated N$614 821 had been reconciled and solved. She said there are still question marks.
Meanwhile, Basson has been accused of acting without council approval, including allegedly signing a cession refund agreement with Duma Tau Property Developers without the authority of the town’s council. This month has cost the town over N$2 million.
Basson was earlier this year given administrative leave to allow for investigations into his allegedly corrupt conduct.