: 14 April 2010
Chairperson, unlike in relation to other
government departments where we merely act as the opposition, here,
as a political party in charge of more than half of the province’s
municipalities, the IFP can credibly assume the role of a legitimate
partner and stakeholder.
This particular department exists to assist
municipalities in the province in a spirit of co-operative
governance. In our response to its budget, we will identify those
areas where, in our experience, it could do more to help
municipalities fulfil their constitutional mandate.
One word of comment about the recent
interventions in municipalities. We understand that placing
municipalities under administration by the provincial government is
a last resort which places additional financial pressure on the
Department of Co-operative Governance. Political considerations
aside, it is also an indictment of how badly some municipalities
perform in terms of their own administration, compliance with
legislation and, ultimately, service delivery.
I wish to put this issue into context by
pointing out that the four local municipalities, including one
aspiring metro, that have been placed under administration in
KwaZulu-Natal over the last year are but a fraction of the total of
23 local and district municipalities countrywide that have met the
same fate. KwaZulu-Natal is not unique; North West, Free State and
Mpumalanga each saw 5 municipal interventions out of a much smaller
total of municipalities in each of these provinces.
A recent municipal indaba of all our
councillors committed all IFP-run municipalities in the province to
the national department’s turnaround strategy. We may have our
doubts about the one-size-fits-all nature of this approach – handed
down from the national department - but we are prepared to give it a
chance and not dismiss it as yet another exercise of its kind in a
pattern that has seen many instances of municipal unrest followed by
assessment programmes that led directly to various turnaround
If we are looking for ways to exploit the
generic nature of this turnaround strategy and if, at the same time,
we are contemplating targeted lifestyle audits for senior officials
in the provincial government departments, this particular department
could extend this initiative to local government and start by
compiling a list of councillors and municipal officials who owe
money to municipalities for rates or service charges.
Chairperson, in addition to the MFMA,
municipalities have too many laws and regulations to comply with.
They often get so bogged down with paperwork that they lose focus on
the most important thing which is service delivery to their
residents. Using its existing structures, the department must
actively look for ways to reduce the reporting and compliance burden
of municipalities so that they can focus more on the essential
Our municipalities – and this concern goes
back a long way - are expected to foot the bill for functions that
are not local government functions. Unfunded mandates not only use
up limited municipal funding but put extra pressure on
municipalities’ human resources. Our appeal is to the department –
and other stakeholders such as SALGA - to address unfunded mandates
such as libraries which are assigned to provinces in the
Then there are Integrated Development Plans.
Every municipality's IDP is assessed by this department on an annual
basis for credibility. Many IDPs only exist on paper and are not
being implemented in practice. There does not appear to be a strong
relationship between IDPs and municipal budgets and if this is the
case, what is the point of an IDP? It should be an action plan, not
a wish list and the department has to assist municipalities in this
regard by way of nurturing integrated planning skills.
Chairperson, we are also concerned about
municipalities ’s s for disasters, particularly when they are the
first port of call when disasters strike. It is time for this
department and indeed the entire provincial government to co-opt
municipalities and various stakeholders and begin to think
differently about disasters. We must look beyond disaster management
centres as we know them.
The long-term solution to disasters is to be
proactive and identify disaster risks and, in doing so, prevent
disasters or reduce their impact when they occur. One obvious
example is ensuring that storm water drains are kept clear by
municipalities in order to prevent or reduce flooding. Other
examples of such co-operation I confidently leave to the department
and individual municipalities.
Chairperson, finally, I take this
opportunity to call into question the effectiveness of the Community
Development Worker Programme. It is an example of a good idea
compromised by politics. There are definite areas where CDWs could
live up to their job description. They could facilitate community
projects such as food gardens or individual ventures such as
starting small businesses. They could also help create awareness
about domestic violence or access to social grants.
These are good initiatives, but we must
first ensure that CDWs are held accountable for their work. The fact
that they are appointed and paid by the department while working in
the municipal environment is a source of tension and this tension
has not always been creative tension. Too often politics gets in the
way of municipal business and it is the responsibility of the
department to ensure CDWs are primarily accountable to residents in
Chairperson, our comments about this
department’s budget are constructive and we hope the Hon. MEC for
Co-operative Governance will see them as such.
I thank you.
078 302 0929