Cogta says KZN’s local municipalities in the province are ‘in better shape’
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DURBAN - THE Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) reflected on the state of local municipalities 14 days before the local government elections will change the political landscape.
MEC Sipho Hlomuka said they concluded a second assessment of municipalities in the province, with the first such assessment having taken place just after the 2019 national and provincial elections.
The latest assessment must be shared with outgoing local government representatives, and was for the benefit of future ones, he said.
The department hosted an engagement with the outgoing local government representatives at the main campus of the University of Zululand in eMpangeni. Cogta Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala were in attendance.
Hlomuka said this was the last stretch of the term of local government whose representatives were elected into office in 2016. It was a time to reflect on what KZN municipalities have achieved during this time and where more work was needed in the next term of local government, he said.
During the 2016-2021 term of local government, KZN municipalities began with an increased number of coalitions and hung municipalities, he said.
“Despite the beginning of this term experiencing instability in 14 municipal councils, we are ending this term on a high note with only four municipalities that experience instability in their councils.”
Section 106 investigations had been concluded in more than 20 municipalities, he said, adding that there were municipalities that had implemented the recommendations made in the reports, even to the extent of laying criminal charges.
Hlomuka said there was an improvement in municipal compliance with legislated timeframes for the adoption of the IDPs, budgets, service delivery and budget implementation plans, performance agreements for senior managers and submission of annual financial statements and annual performance reports to the auditor-general.
“Many KZN municipalities are now filling their vacant senior management positions to avoid creating a vacuum in their administrations. The vacancy rate across the province’s municipalities has been reduced to 12.77% as at September 2021.”
There had been a reduction in municipal debt owed to Eskom, leaving only three municipalities with long outstanding debt, namely Newcastle, Ulundi and Mpofana.
“Fewer of our municipalities are now reliant on consultants to compile their annual financial statements. They perform this function internally. There has also been a marked improvement in municipal grant spending, with only uMkhanyakude district failing to spend 100% of its municipal infrastructure grant by June 2021.”
Hlomuka said infrastructure backlogs had marginally decreased across the municipal sphere compared to the pre-democracy era. This was largely due to Expanded Public Works Programme grants. The department in the province had channelled significant financial investments into small-town rehabilitation, community service centres, and water and electricity projects.
He said more than 50% of the province’s districts now have disaster management centres.