Executive Mayor – Cllr Walter Mngomezulu
Municipal Manager: CA Habile
Whip of Council: Cllr T Nkosi
Members of the Council
Officials from the District Municipality and local municipalities
Firstly, I would like to appreciate this opportunity to engage with you at this strategic planning session. I am particularly pleased to be addressing a municipality named in honour of our political stalwart, uBaba Richard “Gert” Sibande, who was one of the ANC comrades co-accused to stand trial in the treason trial of 1956-61 alongside uTata Nelson Mandela and 154 others.
Mr Sibande nicknamed the ‘Lion of the East’ due to his political activism in this province, was a farm labourer in the Bethel District, it is here that he organised farmworkers against inhumane working conditions in Bethel.
His life and commitment to people’s upliftment should serve as a constant reminder to us all as we strive to serve our people and build better communities. As demonstrated by the excellent job done in respect to the municipality, which includes achieving an unqualified audit result with no findings (“Clean Audit”) for the 2020/21 financial year, this, my fellow colleagues, is an achievement that we should celebrate and aim to maintain without fail.
I speak to you today, following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s keynote address at the official opening of the sixth South African Local Government Association’s (SALGA) elective Conference which installed a new leadership to take the organisation forward in the next five years.
In his address, President Ramaphosa made a solemn clarion call to change people’s lives for the better. He reminded us that local government is the most important enabler of economic growth and development when he said, and I quote: ‘By providing reliable water supply, sanitation, energy and refuse services, and through road and infrastructure maintenance, local government enables our economy to grow and create employment.’
I am happy that this session happens at the beginning of the new term of local government that fortunately coincides with the coming into effect of strengthened public policies and programmes for local government.
This session today gives an opportunity, to be honest and robust with ourselves as we look at the huge task that still lies ahead.
We are therefore meeting not to lament, but to agree on the way forward on how we can deliver integrated services to our people as per our mandate.
As you all know, the Minister of COGTA, Dr Nkosaza Dlamini Zuma, has tabled a report on the State of Local Government to Cabinet on the 30 June 2021 based on five Key Performance Areas:
- Financial Management
- Service delivery
The State of Local Government Report (SoLG) furthermore identifies a number of municipalities with challenges with 36 municipalities experiencing governance challenges, 63 municipalities having serious service delivery challenges and a total of 163 municipalities in financial distress. A total of 64 municipalities were identified with challenges across the key performance areas of governance, service delivery and financial management.
Having qualified officials will assist in dealing with other unintended challenges like poor financial management, irregular expenditure leading to poor audit outcomes. On the other hand, the challenges of infrastructure development and maintenance are also key and require suitable qualified persons.
All the above have a negative bearing on the delivery of services across all key areas of service delivery, for example, water, refuse, infrastructure, etc. We should do away with all these challenges for the sake of our communities.
All municipalities are expected to incorporate on an incremental basis the MSIPs into the 5-year IDPs even post the Local Government Elections to ensure sustainability in dealing with the challenges identified in the SoLG report.
In terms of the short term implementation plan of the local government support and intervention packages, we need to – (1) Fast-track repairs and maintenance of water infrastructure, sanitation, repair potholes, energise streetlights, attend to sewer spillages etc; (2) Need to upscale efforts relating to community participation and citizen engagement; (3) Fight vandalism and theft of public transport infrastructure in collaboration with sector departments; (4) Operationalisation of the Structures and Systems Acts which coincides with the commencement of the next term of local government; (5) Conduct an in-depth assessment of municipalities that are already under section 139 of the Constitution and deal with areas that need urgent attention by amongst others deploying technical support teams, DDM Political Champions to unblock persistent challenges, etc.
Active participation in processes and ownership from all relevant stakeholders will be required to ensure the successful implementation of the MSIPs. Municipalities have to ensure:
- Active participation in and ownership of the processes of developing and finalisation of MSIPs
- Obtaining Council approval and ensuring regular reporting to Council on the implementation of the MSIPs
- MSIP’s to be a standing item on Council agenda for monitoring and reporting purposes
- Progress on implementation of MSIPs must be reported quarterly to Provincial CoGTA and Treasuries departments
- Institutionalise the MSIP by incrementally incorporating them into the 5-year IDPs post the Local Government Elections to ensure that all challenges identified in the State of LG report are dealt with.
- Councillors, last month on 28 February, we launched the Small-Town Regeneration Strategy (STR). We should all unite behind the implementation of this strategy which will surely go a long way to reviving the economy of small towns and thus improving the lives of our communities. This will be done by addressing the developmental needs of small towns and the people living and working in those towns, now and in the future.
The implementation of this strategy will definitely create opportunities for the establishment of sustainable communities.
To this effect, the objectives of the STR Strategy are to (1) create a spatially enabling environment, by following a (2) broad-based approach to local social development, that will bring about (3) equitable economic growth, through (4) cooperative, coherent and responsible governance, and (5) strengthened institutional mechanisms for monitoring and evaluation and data management.
Of importance is that these small towns’ initiatives will assist with regeneration, restoration, and fulfilment of the economic potential of underperforming small towns. Many of our small towns are rich in significance and history which speaks to the communities.
I must also emphasise that the strategy finds resonance within the District Development Model (DDM)- an all of government and society approach which calls for better planning and delivery of services in a seamlessly coordinated and integrated manner. By improving small towns around this district, we will also directly contribute to the improvement of the lives of communities.
In conclusion, let me wish you all of the best as you continue to deliberate in your strategic session. My hope is that you emerge out of here with a progamme of action that will set the district on a new and better trajectory to deliver for our communities.
I thank you