The arrests related to the killing of councillors in the province of KwaZulu Natal has seen the scourge abate and this was as a result of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s intervention through Inter Ministerial Team.
This was said by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Dr Zweli Mkhize at the South African Local Government Association’s Members Assembly in Durban. He echoed the sentiment expressed earlier by the Premier of the province, Mr Willies Mchunu who also thanked the President for ensuring that the scourge is arrested.
Dr Mkhize also announced that the Ministers of Finance as well as Public Service and Administration, the MECs and SALGA have been given until 14 December to comment on the Draft Notice on the Upper Limits for councillors which the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) intends to gazette on 17 December 2018 for implementation.
He further revealed that a tender on the review of the remuneration of senior managers was advertised in the Government Tender Bulletin of 30 November 2018 with the closing date of 21 January 2019. COGTA intends to finalise the review and to implement market related salaries before the commencement of the new financial year of municipalities in 2019.
This is part of the ongoing work that the department has engaged in since the beginning of the year to build a strong and stable local government system that is essential for a vibrant democracy. It is also crucial in ensuring the provision of services to our people efficiently, effectively and in a caring manner.
“At the beginning of this year, we identified the various challenges in our municipalities, which contribute to poor service delivery.
“We identified governance and administration, and financial management challenges, including the lack of capacity to implement infrastructure projects, which cumulatively results in poor service delivery and consequently restlessness in our communities, who often express their discontent with violent protests.
“We set out to address these challenges and to change the negative perceptions about local government. We launched the Municipal Recovery Plan which is derived from the Back to Basics principles, working with the National Treasury and colleagues in all provinces, focusing on fixing governance and administration challenges as well as financial management issues. Our priorities also addressing political instability in some councils caused by shaky coalitions or internal dynamics within political parties.
“We embarked on provincial visits to address these challenges. Working with colleagues Premiers and MECs and mayors, we agreed to adhere to a recovery plan in each of the affected municipalities visited, with clear targets in terms of financial management, governance and administration as well as service delivery improvement. This work is ongoing.
“We also announced the deployment of engineers and town planners in 55 distressed and dysfunctional municipalities earlier this year, so that they can be able to spend the money allocated for infrastructure. There is an improvement in some municipalities while others still have some way to go still towards recovery in this regard,” said Minister Mkhize.
Dr Mkhize also welcomed the proposed investment in municipal social infrastructure improvement, which the President committed to as part of the economic stimulus package announced in the economic recovery plan in September saying this will contribute immensely to the improvement of the competitiveness of municipalities as they seek investments that will in turn boost job creation.
He threw down the gauntlet to the SALGA delegates saying the improved local government system depends on them adding that it was proper and correct that President Cyril Ramaphosa was addressing them to ensure that they he gives them a line of much and understand that the buck stops with them.
Dr Mkhize thanked the President for continuing to provide active support to local government sector. “We know that we can count on you for guidance as we work to rebuild and strengthen local government so that it can serve our people better and with dignity. We truly appreciate your support.”
Minister Mkhize also quoted Madiba, in words that still stand today, when he addressed local government during his last opening of Parliament in February 1999 when he said:
“But we must be honest and acknowledge that, in many respects, this level of government has often played itself out as an Achilles Heel of democratic governance. This is not for the lack of structures and rules. Where this happens, it has more to do with the behaviour and attitudes of cadres that all parties have deployed in these structures.
“It is a matter of the survival of democracy, of the confidence that people will have in the new system, that all of us should pay particular attention to this issue. The public is justified in demanding better service, more respect and greater concern for their needs rather than self-aggrandisement.”
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