councils FALL APART

Sicelo Dladla

Sicelo Dladla

Municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal came under fire yesterday for not doing their work.

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for local government and traditional affairs Mike Mabuyakhulu has attributed this state of affairs to councillors' lack of experience.

"Although we had inductions across the province for leaders who were elected in March 2006, we discovered that they fail to understand their role. There is a big gap," he said.

Speaking at a symposium for councillors at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre, Mabuyakhulu said in 2007-08 several municipalities failed to comply with the good governance framework.

"Twenty-five municipalities were unable to adopt revised bylaws 29 were unable to implement their Batho Pele programmes. The Auditor-General issued a number of disclaimers and qualifications and only 12 municipalities achieved a set benchmark as an indicator of good governance," Mabuyakhulu said.

The province has 61 municipalities. He said municipal audit outcomes remained generally poor, with only 18 of 60 municipalities having received a good audit for the 2006-07 financial year.

He said these figures were a reflection of the fact that they were experiencing challenges of governance, which could not go unchecked.

"Indeed, over the past two financial years, our department has had to undertake the most drastic of interventions in six municipalities," Mabuyakhulu said.

In addition, numerous, less formal interventions have been required because governance and administration within these municipalities was partially dysfunctional.

"In most of the cases where we have had to intervene, it is precisely because councillors had abrogated their responsibilities to perform their oversight duties. This had resulted in administrative crises and compromised good and clean governance in those municipalities.

"What is even more worrying is that those who are supposed to be watchdogs over administration are, at times, the ones who put pressure on administrators to break the law," Mabuyakhulu said.

He said actual transgressions or challenges ranged from corruption, abuse of authority and gross negligence to compromised decision-making.

Mabuyakhulu said there was a need to have special committees on public accounts (Scopa) to investigate municipalities at local level. He said they would provide tool kits for councillors at the end of the symposium so that these would enable them to do their work properly.