Government Admits Concerns Over Municipality Operating Procedures
Pretoria – Government has admitted something is fundamentally wrong
with the way in which municipalities operate – a worry it says could
threaten the success and development achieved in South Africa thus far.

Policy, legislation, weaknesses in the accountability system, capacity
and skills constraints and weak intergovernmental support and oversight
are some of the factors that have lead to a break down in service
delivery at local government level.

But there is a ray of hope in the form of the Local Government
Turnaround Strategy, which Cooperative Governance and Traditional
Affairs Minister, Sicelo Shiceka, is adamant will turn the tide of
service delivery in South Africa.

The ambitious Local Government Turnaround Strategy, approved by Cabinet
last year, aims to turn municipalities into responsive, efficient,
effective and accountable structures. It further addresses management
challenges faced by municipalities and finds ways to help them achieve
clean audits by 2014.

Shiceka believes these targets set to turn things around will be met.

“There is no doubt that we will reach the targets set. We have
identified what needs to be done. It is now a question of execution. By
2014, local government will be different in terms of what it does; the
tasks that it performs and the services that it delivers,” he told

Strides will be made in the areas of water, electricity, sanitation and
waste management provision.

“There is no reason that in South Africa today, 64 percent of its
residents still receive poor services. We need to reach 100 percent
provision in those areas. The basic services need to be provided,” he

He explained that every municipality has their own turnaround strategy
where they have identified their own problems and solutions. “We knew
when we started this process that the one-size-fits-all solution would
not work. We are in the process of implementation and we are handling
matters quite well. The tide is turning.”

In recent months, violent protests have rocked communities across the
country, with residents mostly demanding better services at local
government level, but the minister believes that the implementation of
the turnaround strategy will help restore the public’s faith in local
government structures.

Strengthening ward committees was a major priority, according to the
minister, who added that the department was coming up with a revised
model for ward committees that would look at giving them more say and
power in the running of their municipalities.

Beyond the turnaround strategy, Shiceka says amendments to the
Municipal Systems Act have been submitted to Parliament in an effort to
tighten and strengthen administration and “to ensure that we
professionalise the public service at local government level”.

“We need to remove petty politics and party politics at local
government level,” said Shiceka.

The department is also conducting an audit in terms of skills. “[This
is aimed at] looking at what is the skills gap in municipalities and at
what level in the effort to re-train people who are re-trainable.”

He said government would no longer tolerate incompetence. “Those who
cannot be re-trained, unfortunately we will have to ask them to excuse
themselves,” Shiceka said firmly.

The department also hopes to amend the Municipal Financial Management
Act to close the loopholes and gaps that permit corruption. Operation
Clean Audit would also be one of the mechanisms that will be used to
ensure that municipalities have clean audits by 2014.

“By 2011-2012, we must have reached 65 percent, by 2012-2013, 75
percent and by 2013-2014, 100 percent. It’s an ambitious target, but we
have put systems in place to ensure that we reach them, working
together with the Auditor-General,” he added. – BuaNews

Editors Notes:
It is significant that
this cautious press release was sent out by the Government
Communications Department at the same time that we have our Executive
Mayor, Zanoxolo Wayile and the head of the NMMM Communications Department, Roland Williams, BOTH assuring
other local media, that
all is hunky dory in monkeypality land.

“Crisis? What Crisis?”

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