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CoGTA Strengthens Efforts to Rescue Distressed Municipalities

The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) will dispatch with immediate effect 14 technical teams to dysfunctional municipalities to build capacity.

“These teams are composed of engineers, construction and project managers, financial experts, town and regional planning experts and administrators, who are expected to build permanent capacity in the municipalities,” Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Dr Zweli Mkhize, said.

Other teams will be deployed by December this year.

Addressing the FNB Academy for Municipal Excellence workshop on Tuesday, he said deploying the technical teams will, among others, enable municipalities to spend their Municipal Infrastructure Grant to enable improvement of the municipalities.

According to the Minister, many municipalities experience a systemic problem of skills shortage, which causes non-delivery and manifests in over- and under-spending on the programmes.

“One example is debilitative underspending on the Municipal Infrastructure Grant, among others, on account of lack of qualified engineers to oversee the infrastructure projects. We established that only 55 out of 257 municipalities have qualified engineers to assist in these projects.

“The impact of this deficiency is poor services to the communities, which in some instances, for lack of understanding, can easily be passed off as corruption and fan unnecessary flames of protest,” he said.

The Minister said appropriately qualified and experienced people have to be employed in municipalities and all vacancies within the correct municipal structures have to be filled in three months so that service delivery is not delayed any further.

The Minister’s department and National Treasury are devising strategies to strengthen financial controls in municipalities.

“One of the ways is to take a very harsh line against disclaimers because essentially, they indicate that there is no basis for even a basic assessment or audit of the functions of the municipalities, including how funds are expended.

“We have set our timeframe of 12 months to address the situation of disclaimers, as well as many other financial leakages in the system,” he said.

CoGTA is also rolling out the implementation of the Municipal Specific Revenue Plan in selected municipalities nationwide to assist them with financial and revenue management.

The department has visited municipalities in various provinces to address the challenges they face.

“So far, we have been to the Eastern Cape and the North West provinces and we will cover the rest of the country in due time, directly looking at distressed and dysfunctional municipalities and finalising solutions with the provincial and local government leaders,” he said. – SAnews.gov.za