The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Mr Des van Rooyen held successful meetings in Bloemfontein, Free State province. The first meeting was held with the leadership of the newly constituted Provincial House of Traditional Leaders (PHTL) and the other one with the Troika of municipalities.
The meetings were attended by: Premier Ace Magashule, MEC of finance – Elsabe Rockman, MEC of CoGTA – Sisi Ntombela, SALGA CEO Olly Mlamleli, Chairperson, Headwoman – Kgosigadi AGG Moroka and Morena SD Sekonyela as the Deputy Chairperson and the leadership of various municipalities consisting of Mayors, Speakers, Chief whips and Municipal Managers.
The first meeting was with the leadership of the reconstituted PHTL – chairperson and the deputy chairperson. The Free State house was successfully reconstituted on 08 August 2017. This reconstitution marked the election of the Chairperson, Headwoman – Kgosigadi AGG Moroka who was the Deputy Chairperson in the previous House and Morena SD Sekonyela as the Deputy Chairperson. The meeting with traditional leadership served to introduce the new leadership and also committed the close working relations going forward. The meeting also discussed the planned induction of the newly reconstituted house.
Following the meeting with traditional leaders, the leadership met with Troika of municipalities. The B2B approach calls for working sessions to be held with Municipalities and provincial departments to ensure their effective and efficient functioning. To this effect, the purpose of the meeting with the troika was to assess the functionality of the priority municipalities that were identified as part of the Back to Basics (B2B) approach. In terms of B2B, this priority municipalities are to be provided with a focused support.
Since the Chairperson of the meeting encouraged openness, the meeting explored all key challenges and also reflected on key solutions. “We believe that this clear action plan will propel our efforts to ensure improved functionality of municipalities”, said Minister van Rooyen.
Guided by the National Development Plan (NDP) which places Municipalities at the centre of the success of a democratic government, the meeting agreed that it is all in our interest to ensure that we have functioning municipalities. The meeting noted that even though there are many successes that have been registered by local government thus far, the leadership at the third sphere were urged to work harder so as to ensure that the negatives to not quickly overwhelm the positives. Minister van Rooyen was supported by a number of speakers calling for the full implementation of the NDP through the work of local government.
“It is a serious concern that we still have municipalities that are not functional and as such are unable to deliver on their mandate. It is within this context that we continue to invest all our efforts to ensure that these municipalities are functional”, said Minister.
Both Premier Magashule and Minister van Rooyen called on municipalities to go back to basics as this is a plan we developed to address all challenges. “It is only through the implementation of the B2B key principles and actions that we can be able to turn around our municipalities”, said Premier. It is in this context that the leadership of the identified municipalities, Mafube, Masilonyana, Maluti-A-Phofung and Matjhabeng, committed to turning them around amid the perennial challenges that continue to persist.
Some of these key challenges identified includes those in governance and administration, financial management, lack of economic base, failure to pay salaries to municipal employees, failure to service bulk accounts – (Eskom and Water Boards|), unauthorized and irregular expenditure, dilapidated infrastructure, failure to spend MIG allocation, etc.
To mitigate some of this challenges, the provincial treasury has instituted plans to support municipalities and ensuring that they move to good financial health. District teams have been deployed to work directly with municipalities as part of the comprehensive support. This efforts by Treasury were credited for the improved audit report that municipalities in the Free State registered.
Going forward, the meeting agreed on a collaborative approach that will see the province and national departments supporting municipalities that are experiencing challenges. The approach will also see the creation of technical team from all spheres which will implement the action plan agreed upon.
Part of the action plan agreed upon is the following:
a) The municipalities will be assisted to develop finance recovery plans.
b) CoGTA through the will develop engineers to assist with assessments of infrastructure needs.
c) Municipalities to develop monthly B2B reports and submit to CoGTA.
d) Ensuring that municipalities becomes economically viable by building a strong economic base. This calls for municipality to ensure the development and implementation of the Local Economic Development plans and come up with revenue generating programmes.
e) CoGTA will through Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (|MISA) deploy engineers in municipalities to help with challenges of infrastructure. This assistance will assess the infrastructure challenges and augment where there are technical skill shortfalls.
f) SALGA committed to assist with the Performance Management System and conduct proper training and job evaluation in municipalities. SALGA will also assist to address labour relations matters in municipalities.
g) COGTA will establish a team to provide individual support to Municipalities and ensure that key posts are filled in Municipalities.
h) The issue of increasing the equitable share of the Municipality will be given attention to ensure adequate service delivery.
i) The municipalities agreed to speed up the appointment of personnel in key positions that are vacant (CFO, Municipal Manager, etc).
The other key issue that was raised, was how to ensure that government departments and entities that owe municipalities pay their debts. This interventions and the action plan will surely go a long way to turning around the municipalities and thus ensuring an effective and efficient functioning municipalities. The leadership of municipalities committed to providing leadership in an effort to ensure change.
CoGTA Head of Communications
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