SPEECH NOTES BY DACRE HADDON, MPL TO THE EASTERN CAPE LEGISLATURE DECEMBER 2011-ANNUAL REPORT OF DEPARTMENT LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND TRADITIONAL AFFAIRS 2010-11 FINANCIAL YEAR

Honourable Speaker, Madam Premier, Executive Council, Members of the Legislature officials, guests and media -greetings to you all.

Local government is the coalface of service delivery.

It is plain that all parties in this legislature are striving to uplift the living conditions of all our communities.

Speaker, much has been achieved in enhancing local government in this province. However, we are mindful of the great challenge facing us all in trying to continually better the lives of our people.

Over the last few months we have witnessed several disturbing happenings in our municipalities.

Let me highlight some of these:

There were illegal ward committee elections that occurred in many municipalities in the province.

The Sherriff of the Court attached the Port St John’s municipality assets because of outstanding debt owing to life guards .

The Gariep municpalitiy is being sued for R 2,5 million because it can’t pay for electricity consumption.

Matatiele municipality wants to host a 3-day music festival costing R1,6million which it cannot afford.

The divisions within the operational structures of our two metros, Nelson Mandela and Buffalo City, have been extensively publicised in the media.

The report refers to under spending of R47 million by the department (higher than in the previous year).

Of particular concern in the report is the reference to municipalities not implementing by laws.

I will focus on this and in particular the lack of implementation of revenue by laws in municipalities.

As we know, rates revenue often makes up the only independent revenue income outside of equitable share and grant funding to municipalities.

The report states therefore under programme 3 (2) Finding (d) that the department has assisted only three municipalities out of 45 to promulgate rates policies and develop rates valuation rolls.

However, I refer to the written reply IQP (Internal Question paper) number 16 of 2010 question 144 where I asked the MEC for Local Government how many municipalities in the province had implemented the provisions of the Municipal Property Rates ACT?

The answer received was that 38 municipalities had implemented the provisions of this act.

Two municipalities had not complied with the provisions of the act namely Mbizana and and Ingquza Hill.

So Speaker, why does this IQP refer to 38 municipalities having complied with implementing rates policies while the annual report states only three have been assisted?

Speaker, this is a serious matter!

There is a misstatement of fact either in the report or in answers received from departmental officials!

Which information is correct?

Secondly Speaker, the report under finding “d” talks about assistance to 45 municipalities while the IQP answer reports a need for 40 municipalities to be assisted!

Another anomaly!

What is the correct information?

Is the MEC aware of what is going on in his department?

Speaker the ongoing bleating by the department of underfunding and financial constraints is a myth if municipalities are not enforcing rates or Revenue Collection by laws.

If we accept the information on the report then the department must not seek sympathy from the public and media that municipalities are underfunded when they do not collect rates income.

Rates income goes a long way to supplying services and amenities to communities.

It is not acceptable for only three municipalities out of 45 municipalities in the province to have been assisted to implement rates policies!

I wish to highlight another disturbing aspect of the IQP answer.

Speaker the last part of the IQP answer then refers to consultants being employed to help the two non complying municipalities of Mbizana and Ingquza.

The question is: what work did these consultants do and what did they cost?

If only three municipalities have been assisted to implement rates this financial year then which ones were they and where is the value added from the consultants?

The misleading information given by the department is an injustice to the inhabitants of this province.

What is the solution!

Firstly let us get the truth about the real state of rate implementation and collection from every local and district municipality in the province.

Secondly, make this information public.

Thirdly ensure that the implementation of rates polices and full compliance are in accordance with the Municipal Property Rates ACT.

Fourthly, the implementation and collection of all rates owed to a municipality must be one of the regularly reviewed performance criteria reflected in the employment contracts of Municipal Managers and Chief Financial Officers.

I thank you.