A critical analysis of the role of the chief financial officer within local municipal council
The Municipal Manager is responsible for the overall financial management of the municipality as requirement of MFMA. However, section 79(1) of the MFMA makes a provision for the municipal manager to delegate the financial management to the senior manager. The legislative requires that all municipalities should appoint a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) who must be a member of the Senior Management of the municipality. The act, furthermore, requires the municipality to establish the budget and treasury office to be headed by the CFO. In 2007, the Minister of Finance released guidelines for the minimum competency requirement regulation of CFOs implemented on the first day of July 2007. According to the literature review, the CFO should move away from being number crunchers to become more visible in strategic and leadership management. Generally, according to the literature review, financial management within local municipalities in Gauteng is not properly managed. This was revealed in the general report on the audit outcomes of local government for the financial year ended 30 June 2003, 2004 and 2005. The summary of these reports shows that the Auditor-General expressed disclaimer of opinion to 50% of the financial statements and 13.1% adverse opinion of the municipalities. The reports further revealed that most of the municipalities do not have effective internal risk management or internal audit departments, late submission of financial statements is rife, and failure to implement newly enacted legislation prevails. Therefore, the municipalities' overall financial management is not well managed. The data gathered from the municipalities by administering questionnaires show that the local municipalities' finances are properly managed and they have effective systems of internal control. The municipalities have internal audit or risk management departments, they have functional audit committees and lastly, they implement recommendations from the Auditor-General's office and internal audit diligently. Information from the Auditor-General's office contradicts the information received from municipalities. The researcher is biased towards accepting the Auditor-General's point of view since the Auditor-General has no reason to paint a good or bad picture about the municipalities. The problem presented is that the municipalities do not have welt-established governance structures in place, in the first place; secondly, the contradiction highlights the perceptions of the people involved with the day-to-day financial management about its effectiveness and the Auditor-General's opinion of it. To overcome the problems, municipalities are advised to include competency assessment in their job selection processes, develop their staff members, establish and implement succession planning, and adhere to the legislation and submission timeframes. It is further recommended that the municipalities should adhere to the policy framework and develop strategies that support enhanced service delivery, as well as to instill energy and thought to overcome loss of skill and expertise due to high staff turnover.