SA Local Government Association has spent the last few weeks lobbying Cabinet ministers about the cost-containment measures for municipalities. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency
Cape Town - The SA Local Government Association (Salga) has spent the last few weeks lobbying Cabinet ministers about the sweeping range of cost-containment measures for municipalities set to come into effect next month.

Salga has sent senior delegations to both Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who jointly promulgated the new rules and requested “consultation on the substance of the regulations with all relevant stakeholders, including organised local government”.

On Monday, Salga said: “The regulations are not in line with the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) itself and are in direct contravention of other related legislation, particularly as it relates to the remuneration of public office bearers (councillors). Informed by these concerns the Salga presidency, as mandated by the Salga national executive committee (NEC), has engaged with both ministers with a view to find an amicable solution to the concerns.”

During the talks with Dlamini-Zuma, it was agreed that a recommendation that the implementation of the municipal cost-containment regulations should be stayed until the concerns of all parties had been addressed.

The meeting with Mboweni revealed “that urgent engagements with all stakeholders should be convened to allow for the tabling and consideration of specific concerns, with a view that these deliberations will determine the next steps with regard to the regulations”.

The first of these meetings was scheduled for on Monday.

Mboweni and Dlamini-Zuma originally came up with the containment measures after a report from the auditor-general which condemned “fruitless expenditure” by municipalities across the country.

Earlier yesterday, during a radio interview, Salga president and Polokwane mayor Thembi Nkadimeng said: “The fruitless expenditure mentioned in the auditor-general’s report is about implementation of projects. The reason he said that we were paying our staff and not doing our jobs was precisely because there was a grading system in the municipalities that varied from municipality to municipality.”

Dr Zwelinzima Ndevu of Stellenbosch University's School of Public Leadership said: “While there is broad agreement on all sides that austerity is necessary, the contestation is about how to do it.”

Ndevu said there were better ways to cut spending for municipalities.

“For instance, instead of a couple of officials or councillors spending money to drive or fly across the country to a meeting and then having the extra costs of a hotel stay, it would make more sense if the meeting were held via something like Skype or through a video conference.”

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Cape Argus