DA seeking solutions to assist distressed EC municipalities

Issued by Vicky Knoetze, MPL
Shadow MEC for COGTA

Democratic Alliance Members of the Provincial Legislature will be embarking on a targeted oversight of distressed municipalities in the Eastern Cape to get first-hand accounts of these municipalities’ challenges.

Using the information gathered from these oversights and working closely with the DA councillors in these municipalities, we will identify key turnaround strategies that could be implemented to bring stability. We will also develop tailor-made support and focus initiatives for each municipality.

In a report to the National Portfolio Committee of Cooperative Governance on the State of Local Government, presented earlier this month, it was revealed that out of the 39 municipalities in the Eastern Cape, 11 are regarded as dysfunctional, 14 are regarded as high-risk, and just 14 are deemed low-risk.

The 11 municipalities include three district municipalities: the Amathole, Chris Hani and OR Tambo District. The local municipalities include Makana, Amahlati, Raymond Mhlaba, Sakhisizwe, Enoch Mgijima, Walter Sisulu, and Inquza Hill Local Municipalities. The report also identified the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Metro as dysfunctional and distressed.

Download presentation

The DA has noted that at least two municipalities, Enqgobo and Inxuba Yethemba, were not included on the list of distressed municipalities, despite being flagged for fraud, corruption and maladministration and being scheduled for section 106 investigations.

The Auditor-General’s report raises further alarm bells, stating that municipalities will not be able to continue to render services as there are serious concerns around their financial health.

Only four municipalities, Joe Gqabi District, Senqu, Winnie Madikizela and Elundini, out of 39 municipalities received a clean or unqualified audit outcome with no findings

The AG said 16 municipalities obtained unqualified audits with findings, and 14 had qualified audit findings. The Amathole District Municipality received an adverse opinion and four municipalities, namely the Chris Hani District Municipality, Makana Local Municipality, Walter Sisulu Local Municipality and Sunday’s River Valley Local Municipality, each received disclaimers.

This is in stark comparison to the DA-run Western Cape Province, where 22 municipalities out of 30 received clean or unqualified audit opinions and no adverse opinions.

The AG noted that there is a correlation between failures of governance and political oversight as the primary causes for the increase in the number of dysfunctional municipalities.

The AG highlighted failures in five categories, including governance, administrative, financial management and service delivery.

This is an indictment of the leadership of local municipalities in the Eastern Cape and on the provincial department of COGTA for failing to provide the necessary support and intervention when local authorities have clearly demonstrated that they are incapable of handling their own affairs.

The DA will continue to fight for the people of this province to live in municipalities that work, where basic services are provided under a competent local government, and where this does not happen, to ensure that those responsible are held to account!