HUGE DEPARTMENTAL WAGE BILL CRIPPLES LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN PROVINCE

Some 96% of the departmental budget for Local Government and Traditional Affairs is to be budgeted for staff costs and goods and services during the 2012/13 financial year.

From a budget of R788.45 million for the financial year ahead, an amount of R757.26 million is allocated for these costs.

The wage bill alone amounts to R615 million or 78,7 % of the budget.

Furthermore, the department has a vacancy rate of 82% with 3 000 vacant posts.

In program 3 “Development and Planning” which is the core program of the department, a whopping R97.595 million is being budgeted for staff costs, consultants and S&T from a program budget of R 108.808 million.

This means that only R11.229million is left over for departmental operations to support municipalities this financial year.

There needs to be a complete overhaul of the way the Department of Local Government and Traditional Affairs delivers its mandate in this province.

The department is sitting on a service delivery time bomb which may have violent consequences unless it seriously revises how it conveys its core business to the province.

Chapter 13 of the government’s National Development Plan titled “Building a capable State” articulates in detail how staff should be appointed and how a government department should function effectively.

The department must take heed of this plan and implement it forthwith.

In my speech to the House I suggested various “quick wins” and other ways that the department should be operating in order to deliver effective services to the communities we serve.

These suggestions have been implemented with great success in the DA- governed Western Cape. This includes:

1. A mass rollout of mobile Thusong Service Centres in the province.

2. Co-ordination between the provincial department and all municipalities to streamline service delivery.

3. Job creation through the Integrated Development Plans of municipalities.

4. Immediate recruitment of scarce-skilled employees.

The latest report of the South African Reconciliation Barometer states that confidence in local government in the country was lowest in the Eastern Cape.

The department cannot continue to be an employment agency for party- connected cadres.

An urgent operational turnaround is needed if local government is to succeed in the province.