KZN councillors go 'back to school' to better serve the people

Scores of councillors heeded calls by MEC Nomusa Dube to empower themselves by going back to school.
Scores of councillors heeded calls by MEC Nomusa Dube to empower themselves by going back to school.
Image: Sowetan

Councillors across KwaZulu-Natal municipalities who did not have suitable qualifications have heeded a call by cooperative governance and traditional affairs MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube to get empowered by obtaining them.

Scores of councillors‚ some who did not yet have matric‚ will be conferred with qualifications on Thursday after enrolling in courses to empower themselves so they can better serve their communities.

Dube-Ncube said in a statement: “We are empowering councillors to serve communities which are becoming sophisticated and are living in the knowledge economy. The graduation ceremony will be a crowning moment for councillors to serve with confidence in the fast-paced‚ complex‚ volatile and uncertain local government environment. KwaZulu-Natal will be the first province to empower councillors on such a grand scale.”

Dube-Ncube revealed in May that more than 200 councillors across the province did not have matric and that there was an urgent need to build capacity at local government level.

Delivering her department’s R1.6bn budget for 2018/19‚ Dube-Ncube said it was embarking on a back-to-basics programme as it sought to make municipalities more stable and resilient.

Part of the programme would focus on capacity building at municipalities where out of the 1‚846 councillors‚ 234 had some schooling but no matric‚ four did not have schooling while 322 had matric.

Departmental spokesperson Lennox Mabaso said qualifications obtained by the councillors would help them perform effective oversight‚ comprehend legislation‚ assist on audit matters and other key issues in local government.

“We did an audit and found that some of them do not even have matric. But we were mindful of the fact that people have made their choice and elected these people and that it is the responsibility of government to make sure they are empowered‚” said Mabaso.

He said the relevant councillors had been encouraged to do matric on top of the department’s special programmes and the experience they had in community work to enhance their knowledge.

During her budget presentation‚ Dube-Ncube said her department also had to grapple with the issue of unqualified managers. She told the provincial legislature that seven full-time and 33 acting applications for the appointment of municipal managers or senior managers were nullified because they did not qualify.

In the 2016/17 financial year‚ KwaZulu-Natal municipalities received seven unqualified audits with no other findings‚ 33 unqualified audits with findings‚ 10 qualified audits‚ two adverse audit opinions and two audit disclaimers.

To counter this‚ Dube-Ncube said they had introduced a new way of doing things with municipalities‚ which included not paying bonuses and salary increases to poorly performing municipal employees.

The department also introduced Operation Bounce Back: a strategy to reverse the latest audit regression in the province’s 54 municipalities. It penalises poor performance.

Dube-Ncube said Operation Bounce Back would ensure that all municipalities come up with well-rounded audit response plans that would form the basis for improved audits.