Durban — Opposition parties have welcomed the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs’s (Cogta) decision to intervene by putting the eThekwini Municipality under partial administration.
This comes after KZN Cogta on Tuesday confirmed that it would be sending experts to assist the eThekwini metro amid administrative problems that have engulfed the city, which includes the failure to spend government grants.
KZN IFP chairperson Thami Ntuli said they felt this decision was long overdue.
“In fact, Cogta should have deployed Section 139, which is proper administration, instead of 154, which is only providing support.
“Instead of decreasing, eThekwini’s problems are escalating. Under the ANC-led administration, the City of Durban is slowly disintegrating; nothing in it gives one any hope. The situation has gone from bad to worse,” Ntuli fumed.
“Instead of Section 154 intervention, Cogta should have implemented Section 139, or completely dismantled the eThekwini administration, so that the residents, who are getting the short end of the stick, would get a chance to choose themselves a new government,” he concluded.
DA eThekwini caucus leader Councillor Thabani Mthethwa said: “With great concern we note that this intervention comes after significant damage has been caused to the municipality.”
He said the DA had repeatedly called for intervention and raised alarm bells about the mismanagement, corruption, and service delivery failures that have plagued eThekwini.
“The current status of the municipality, with its failure to spend grants, serious allegations against the city manager, and several other governance issues, could have been avoided if the provincial and national governments had listened to our intervention requests two years ago.”
He said the intervention in eThekwini serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for effective governance and the importance of proactive action to protect the interests of the people.
African Democratic Change (ADeC) president and eThekwini councillor Visvin Reddy welcomed Cogta’s intervention, which came in the wake of the failure by the municipality to spend over R300 million in grant funding, as well as various other red flags identified by the AG.
Reddy said he wrote to the Cogta MEC and requested this intervention after questions were raised over the appointment of city manager Musa Mbhele.
“Contrary to statements made by mayor Mxolisi Kaunda and some in the ANC that eThekwini is well managed, the reality speaks a different story. Service delivery is at its worst, financial mismanagement and lack of accountability has become synonymous with this municipality, which was once the best-run in the country. The city has to rely on massive loans to stay afloat, and ratepayers are frustrated with poor service delivery,” Reddy said.
ActionSA chairperson Zwakele Mncwango said the municipality has failed on numerous occasions to provide an action plan on how they are planning to use their R1.5-billion grant from National Cogta to fix dilapidated sewage infrastructure in the municipality after the April 2022 floods that devastated eThekwini and continues to wreak havoc on the city to date.
“We are cautiously optimistic that the former Director-General in the Presidency, Dr Cassius Lubisi, who is set to spearhead the intervention, will contribute some positive interventions to improve the running of the municipality,” Mncwango said.
Meanwhile, eThekwini regional spokesperson Mlondi Mkhize said the decision taken by Cogta to bring in Lubisi to provide administrative support to eThekwini will fast-track service delivery.
“Currently, the municipality’s turnaround time is too much. We hope that Dr Lubisi’s vast administrative experience in the running of government departments will help hasten service to our communities.
“Other technocrats deployed with Lubisi, such as the former municipal manager Dr Mike Sutcliffe, who has enormous knowledge in running the city of Durban, will bring stability, and an added advantage to proper administration and service delivery to our constrained communities,” Mkhize stressed.
Last week, MPAC chairperson Thami Xuma told the Daily News that his committee concluded that the City Integrity and Investigation Unit’s (CIIU’s) findings and recommendations concerning municipal manager Musa Mbhele were very serious, and had referred the matter to the executive committee (Exco) for a decision.
The Phoenix Civic Movement (PCM) leader Vivian Pillay said the administration of eThekwini was long overdue for change.
“The Manase and auditor-general reports revealed the rampant mismanagement of the ratepayers’ money through corruption, tender fraud and cadre deployment,” he said.
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