Salga boss asks for review of double role practice

Municipality officials' positions in parties harm councils' efficiency'

SA Local Government Association president Thembi Nkadimeng.
SA Local Government Association president Thembi Nkadimeng.
Image: Supplied

The functioning of local government needs a total review which will ensure there is political stability and strong oversight on the work of council.

This is the call made by SA Local Government Association president Thembi Nkadimeng at the release of a report compiled by an independent committee into the state of the 11 municipalities in Gauteng.

Nkadimeng said in certain municipalities, officials have senior roles in their political parties while having administrative duties in the municipality.

“Over the weekend I am a regional chairperson. On Monday, I am the CFO. Over the weekend the municipal manager must take instructions from me. On Monday those instructions are incorrect according to the MFMA. This is what causes instability in some instances. An official must be an official. We are saying those who have political office must be given a year to choose between the two,” Nkadimeng said.

She also lamented the way in which oversight is conducted in local government which is poorer than at provincial level.

“You are a ward councilor. You can be a member of the mayoral council. You can also be the chair of the municipal public accounts committee in the same council. You are a player and a referee at the same time…Even in the systems of oversight at local government, the lines are blurred. There is a lot of overhaul that needs to be done,” Nkadimeng said.

Guateng cooperative governance and traditional affairs MEC Lebogang Maile appointed the committee in 2019 to look into the state of municipalities in the province and the report was handed to him in October last year. The committee looked at finances, public participation, institutional capability and service delivery among the municipalities in the province.

The committee led by Trevor Fowler found that municipalities in Gauteng are struggling with revenue collection and therefore create unrealistic expectations based on potential revenue.

It also found that municipalities have little to no internally funded capital budgets which makes then rely entirely on provincial and national government.

The committee also found that with high levels of poverty in the country, the responsibility to provide free basic services to indigent people is not sustainable if it is done by municipalities alone.

In the past weeks, Sowetan has reported extensively on service delivery problems faced by municipalities such Emfuleni, Rand West City, Mogale City and Merafong City. Residents detailed problems of raw sewerage on the streets, power outages, uncollected refuse and potholes.

Fowler said the problems in Emfuleni started decades before the current administration took over.

“As early as 1998, there was an economic decline in Emfuleni. Was there sufficient  economic support from the province to turn that around? It has been a 20-year economic decline. They have lost all of their businesses. Then, Iscor employed 14 000 people, they now employ 2000. There are downstream businesses that got affected. That is why we say that support from provincial government cannot be just from cooperative governance and traditional affairs but also from the economic development department,” he said.

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