The City of Johannesburg missed its target for pothole repairs by a large margin – and its track record for rates certificates is shaky

Business Insider SA
A massive pothole behind Campus Square in Auckland
A massive pothole behind Campus Square in Auckland Park in 2009, allegedly caused by rain. (Gallo Images)
  • The City of Johannesburg says it repaired 45% of potholes within a week of them being reported last year – while it had a target of 80%.
  • But the Auditor-General says there wasn't evidence even for its claim.
  • The City also couldn't get its numbers right on other targets – and actually short-changed itself on its repair time for traffic lights.

This article has been updated below.

In its last financial year, up to the end of June 2018, 45% of the potholes reported to it were repaired within one week, the City of Johannesburg said in an annual report it released to bondholders on Thursday.

Its target is to repair 80% of reported potholes within a week.

But even the much lower rate it reported to residents could not be verified.

For that number "the supporting evidence provided did not agree to the reported achievement as it was not complete and the actual achievement could not be determined," the Auditor-General said in an addendum to the annual report.

See also: We tested the Joburg, Cape Town and Durban metro call centres - here's what we found

Johannesburg received an unqualified audit from the Auditor-General, a rarity in local government, and one the city bragged about in a press release that touched only on one comment by the AG: the high rate of vacancies in senior management of the city.

In reality the Auditor-General had much to say about the state of the city's reporting and the many mistakes in it.

Johannesburg had initially materially misstated its assets, and liabilities, and expenditure, the AG said. It had provided substantiation for its numbers more slowly than agreed, and some information remains outstanding. And though it corrected its financial numbers, leading to an unqualified audit, problems remain with its numbers.

By its own numbers, Joburg also missed its target for issuing rates-clearance certificates, which owners must produce when selling their property in the city and a source of perpetual delay in the property market. The city's target is to issue all such certificates within a month of request. It says it achieved 84% – but couldn't prove it.

"Management could not provide all the supporting evidence for audit," the AG says. "I was unable to obtain sufficient appropriate evidence for the reported actual evidence."*

In a third instance the city appears to have short-changed itself.

Johannesburg had a target of repairing the electricity supply to traffic signals within 24 hours. It initially said it had handsomely exceeded that target, with an average of just 10 hours and 12 minutes to restore power to robots. But in fact the supporting evidence showed that average time of repair had been much shorter, a mere 5 hours and 54 minutes.

The office of mayor Herman Mashaba referred questions on the report to the city's finance department. The finance department referred questions to the city's treasury department. The treasury department said it would not be able to reply to questions before close of business on Friday, at best.

* On Monday afternoon the City of Johannesburg responded to questions first put on Thursday afternoon.

It said it had been unable to provide proof of rates clearance certificates issued due to a "breakdown in terms availability of the printers and scanners", which means it could not properly calculate how long it took to issue certificates. It said the issue had been resolved; it has since bought new printers and scanners.

Business Insider is still in correspondence with the city on other answers it provided, and this article will be updated as those answers are clarified.

For more go to Business Insider South Africa.

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