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Experts deployed to help Ugu District Municipality with ongoing service-delivery challenges

Experts deployed to help Ugu District Municipality with ongoing service-delivery challenges. File Picture: Bongani Shilubane/ANA

Experts deployed to help Ugu District Municipality with ongoing service-delivery challenges. File Picture: Bongani Shilubane/ANA

Published Dec 21, 2021

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DURBAN - LOCAL government experts have been deployed to the embattled Ugu District Municipality on the South Coast to help it deal with ongoing service-delivery challenges.

A financial expert, governance expert and a technical and engineering expert (from the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation) have been deployed by the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) to assist the municipality.

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The intervention is being carried out in terms of Section 154 of the Constitution, which grants national and provincial government powers to assist struggling municipalities.

However, the move has sparked a war of words between the DA and the department.

The DA said the intervention measures were a response to the party’s campaign for action to be taken in the municipality, but the department rejected this, saying they were part of a general intervention aimed at turning around struggling municipalities.

The DA warned that should there be no improvement following this intervention, it would push for the municipality to be placed under administration.

The deployment of experts is likely to be welcomed by residents, who have battled to get access to services.

Water in the municipality has, over the years, become a precious and scarce commodity. This has led to strikes by community members, which have had a destructive impact on the tourism industry in the area.

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The DA’s Dr Rishigen Viranna said they have placed continuous pressure on Cogta to intervene in Ugu District Municipality.

“This pressure has been successful and now the Ugu District Municipality has been placed under a Section 154 intervention. Under this section, both provincial and national departments can intervene in the municipality to strengthen capacity and support the delivery of basic municipal services,” he said.

Viranna said that for additional capacity, Cogta had sent a financial expert and a governance expert, and the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation had deployed a technical and engineering expert to the municipality.

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“If a Section 154 intervention proves unsuccessful, the next step is a Section 139 administration of Ugu, where all municipal functions are taken over by a Cogta-appointed administrator,” he said.

Viranna said the South Coast was blessed with sunshine and beautiful beaches. He described the region as a hub for tourism, employment and economic growth but said it needed better service delivery.

KZN Cogta spokesperson Senzo Mzila said the DA was claiming victories that did not exist.

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He said supporting municipalities in terms of Section 154 of the Constitution was the mandate of the provincial government.

“As a matter of fact, the deployment of experts has been done at several other municipalities. In Ugu, specifically, the deployment of Mr Sbu Sithole was part of that mandate and support. Several other officials of Cogta are supporting Ugu and other municipalities, the difference being that they are not full-time at Ugu Municipality like the experts.”

He said Cogta, under MEC Sipho Hlomuka, had identified several municipalities where a package of support was offered as part of such assistance. The department had begun with this process on September 21. The latest intervention was a continuation of the support provided by the department.

“The statement by the DA is therefore inaccurate. This support did not begin because of them, but is part of the packages that the department is rolling out to municipalities,” he said.

THE MERCURY

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