DURBAN - KWAZULU-NATAL MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Sipho Hlomuka has read the riot act to the nine municipalities under administration, warning that a further deterioration in their performances, including an inability to generate their own revenue, could lead to even more drastic measures being implemented.
The MEC held a meeting with the administrators of the municipalities on Wednesday in a bid to determine whether they were showing improvements and urged them to take unpopular decisions when necessary.
Some of the matters raised by administrators during the meeting include:
- The lack of support provided to the administrators by officials and councillors in some municipalities.
- The implementation of consequence management measures against errant officials who waste municipal resources through irregular and unauthorised expenditure.
- Concerns that some of the municipalities under administration continue to lose millions of rand as a result of their failure to improve revenue collection.
- Unfunded budgets in municipalities and how to better support municipalities in their budgeting process.
“As ministerial representatives, we expect you to always act in the interest of residents. The nature of the job that you have been appointed to requires you to take unpopular decisions which will assist the municipality,” said Hlomuka.
Hlomuka also expressed concern that some of the municipalities under administration continued to lose millions of rand as a result of their failure to improve revenue collection, with some of them experiencing lengthy blackouts as a result of the failure to invest in their electricity infrastructure.
The municipalities that are under administration are: Abaqulusi, Msunduzi, uThukela, Inkosi Langalibalele, Nquthu, uMkhanyakude, Mtubatuba, Mooi-Mpofana and uMzinyathi.
Some of the municipalities have been under administration more than once. Msunduzi was placed under administration in 2010 and again in April 2019.
Cogta spokesperson Senzelwe Mzila said all nine municipalities had been under administration at one point or another and in order to dissect the causes one would have to look at each municipality case by case.
He explained that the province also applies intervention types in accordance with the law.
He added that some of these municipalities are based in deeply rural communities and heavily rely on the equitable share from National Treasury, while other municipalities are under administration for a variety of issues, including governance failures, poor financial management, failure to deliver services to residents, institutional non-compliance and the failure to investigate irregular expenditure.
“It is important to point out that when a municipality is under Section 139(1)b intervention, the council is still expected to fulfil all obligations and responsibilities, meaning councillors can’t abdicate their responsibilities to the department,” said Mzila.
According to the spokesperson, the department has now assigned financial experts who will work with the administrators in order to implement turnaround plans in these municipalities.
“The deployment of the resources follows a thorough assessment following regressions in audit outcomes in some of the municipalities that are under administration.
“Governance and technical experts including engineers are also deployed as appropriate,” Mzila said.
According to him, the MEC had been firm in his call for any official or councillor accused of wrongdoing to be held accountable.
“On this front there has been significant progress as forensic investigations done in municipalities have led to officials being disciplined and some dismissed.
“Criminal cases have also been opened with the relevant law enforcement agencies,” said Mzila
The department was also investing in training for councillors so that they could exercise proper oversight.