Three months of interventions from the provincial government have failed to impact the lives of the people of the Amatole District Municipality, with taps running dry and a municipality that is still on the verge of collapse.
In January, Eastern Cape MEC of COGTA, Xolile Nqatha, invoked Section 139 (5) (a) of the Constitution with much fanfare, supposedly coming to the rescue of the municipality that had announced they would not be able to pay staff for the next four months.
In terms of the intervention, a financial recovery plan was to be imposed, and a multi-disciplinary task team would be appointed to assist with the implementation of the plan.
The Democratic Alliance has now written to MEC Nqatha, as it has become clear that, to date, no progress has been made in terms of any meaningful financial recovery:
No action has been taken to address the bloated organogram, the excessive cost of employment, or to adjust the municipal grading down from a category seven to a category six municipality.
The municipal manager still receives an R2,4 million annual salary, and senior managers earn an average of R1,8 million a year, way above the maximum amounts as prescribed in the upper limits (Government Gazette 43122).
At the same time, the municipality’s collection rate remains at between 26-27%, against the National Treasury benchmark of 95%, because billing and revenue management remains in shambles.
Large amounts of debts to creditors remain problematic.
The lack of progress is not surprising in the least, as the multi-disciplinary task team consists of the same individuals allegedly responsible for the current state the municipality finds itself in.
The Amathole District Municipality has been captured and is being run by officials and factions, instead of by the elected council.
I have written to MEC Nqatha, and have urged him to implement section 139 (5) (c) of the Constitution, in terms of which the provincial executive should instead take responsibility for imposing the financial recovery plan and appoint a new multi-disciplinary task team consisting of independent and objective individuals.
Alternatively, the MEC must invoke section 139 (1) (c) and dissolve the municipality completely, to save it from the stranglehold of factionalism and rogue officials.
Local government is the bedrock of service delivery. If the local government fails, everyone suffers. The provincial government must act urgently and decisively to free the residents of these municipalities from the shackles of poor governance.