Speech notes: Vicky Knoetze MPL: Consideration of 2016-2017 Annual Report, COGTA. 29 November 2017

FAILURE OF A MUNICIPALITY TO MEET ITS EXECUTIVE OBLIGATIONS IS JUST A FANCY WAY OF SAYING THAT A MUNICIPALITY IS FAILING THE PEOPLE.

  • Service delivery must be the number one priority of the Department of Local Government.
  • The Department must ensure that the letter of the law is followed by all municipalities in terms of their executive functions.

Honourable Deputy Speaker, honourable premier, honourable members and guests, good morning.

Honourable Deputy Speaker, every effort of government must be focussed on improving the lives of South Africans. As we continue to fight against the challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality, we need all spheres of government and all organs of state to effectively deliver on their responsibilities to make South Africa a better place to live for all the people. But, the service delivery buck stops with local government.

The National Development Plan states that the state must provide the institutions and infrastructure that enable the economy and society to operate and that in a society with deep social and economic divisions, neither social nor economic transformation is possible without a capable developmental state.

Therefore Honourable Deputy Speaker, an efficient public administration is a critical enabler that lays the foundation for a partnership approach between the government and South African citizens in which the government works to deliver opportunities and citizens work to deliver opportunities and citizens take responsibility to use these opportunities to improve their own lives.

A survey conducted by Urban Africa asked households what they considered the main problem or difficulty facing municipalities in which they live:

  • A lack of a safe and reliable water supply;
  • A lack of or inadequate water supply;
  • The cost of electricity;
  • Inadequate housing and
  • Violence and crime.

Corruption, wasteful expenditure and poor administration place an enormous strain on the public purse. We need to use public money to create an enabling environment for economic growth and job creation in order to improve educational outcomes, to invest in the skills our people need to participate in the economy, to provide healthcare, housing and basic services and to fund and run protection services to keep our citizens safe.

We face enormous service delivery and development challenges as a country. These challenges can only be addressed by a government with the necessary political will to ensure that all its resources are used in the service of the people of South Africa and with the necessary systems, capacity and skills to deliver services effectively.

Honourable Deputy Speaker, the Democratic Alliance noted with concern that the MEC must by today, decide whether or not to forge ahead with placing 3 municipalities under section 139 (1) (a) – Mnquma, Makana and Enoch Mgijima Municipalities.

We commend the MEC for taking action in terms of non-compliant municipalities. What is of concern is the number of municipalities that are struggling to follow the letter of the law and are simply flouting provisions of local government legislation such as the Systems Act, the Structures Act and the MFMA:

  • Mnquma Municipality
  • Makana Municipality
  • Former Malteswai (WSLM)
  • Enoch Mgijima Municipality
  • Port St Johns Municipality
  • Intsika Yethu Municipality

Mnquma Municipality is still failing to improve service delivery and is still struggling to maintain stability despite continuous support from COGTA.

Makana LM still has an MM that is paid R 180 000pm, much higher than what an MM should earn, this is a cash-strapped municipality.

The MM in Matatiele LM has allegedly conducted financial misconduct to the tune f R 8.7 million.

The sheriff in former Maletswai has allegedly been attaching municipal property since yesterday.

Some municipalities have now reached a critical point in terms of non-compliance stretching over a year since the 2016 Local Government Elections. These include Enoch Mgijima, Mnquma LM and Makana LM. The MEC has written to each of them requesting them to give reasons as to why they should not be placed under section 139(1) (a) administration. Everybody knows that s139 is very dangerous territory for any municipality.

The Democratic Alliance is, however, ready to have another bite at the apple should section 139(1) (c) takes effect and the municipal council is dissolved leading to by-elections. We will fight for control of these municipalities when the time is right to fight, for now, the municipalities must focus on its people. However, if a municipality is unable to properly administer the affairs of the municipality it must be placed under administration or dissolved. If a municipal council is not functioning in accordance with the letter of the law, it must be placed under administration or dissolved.

It cannot be tolerated that a Municipality (Enoch Mgijima) is still without an MM and CFO after almost a year. It is the people who suffer. This municipality lost R 23 million rands because it does not have a CFO.

It cannot be tolerated that there is irregular expenditure due to non-compliance in terms of Government Gazettes (3717) in that Enoch Mgijima appointed 12 full-time councillors without the approval of the MEC, a fact which was brought to the MEC by the DA in April already.

The MEC was quite right when he wrote to them and stated that there is a Breach of the Code of Conduct of Municipal Councils in that council acted in a way that was not in the best interest of the municipality and in such a way that negatively affected the credibility and integrity of the municipality. It is my observation that this municipality has a complete lack of respect for the Department of Local Governance and the MEC.

The Democratic Alliance hopes that the MEC will no longer tolerate this kind of non-compliance by municipalities.

These are not the only municipalities that are struggling to meet its executive obligations. The DA informed the MEC of at least 3 other instances of alleged irregular appointment of MM’s in Walter Sisulu LM, Port St Johns Municipality and Intsika Yethu Municipality.

Honourable Deputy Speaker, in terms of emergency disaster funding, R 70 million was received by the Department of COGTA for the disaster in OR Tambo in January, this will be distributed to the Departments of Human Settlements and the Department of Education. The emergency funding is there to assist the people on the ground affected by a disaster; there is a reason why it is called EMERGENCY funding. The MEC must ensure that emergency funding is received immediately and reaches the people as soon as possible.

Having said that, a drought disaster was declared and gazetted in the Sarah Baartman District Municipality 3 months ago. Disaster funds must make its way to the people of Sarah Baartman District Municipality post haste.

The Democratic Alliance will continue our efforts to root out corruption, incompetence, non-compliance and cadre deployment in municipalities.

Failure of a municipality to meet executive obligations is just a fancy way of saying – the municipality is failing its people.

In conclusion Honourable Deputy Speaker, effective government and governance can improve the lives of all South Africa’s people. Our decisions and actions as government must be aimed at delivering these improvements to all South Africans. Let us always put the people first.

Honourable Deputy Speaker, the service delivery buck stops with the sphere of government closest to the people, local government.

The DA supports the report by the Department.

Thank You.