KZN ‘turns tide’ on dysfunctional municipalities
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Durban: Intervention from the provincial government on dysfunctional municipalities across KwaZulu-Natal had yielded results, with two thirds of the municipalities showing improvement and stability, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Sipho Hlomuka revealed on Thursday.
Speaking after visiting Howick yesterday where he oversaw the unveiling of community projects, Hlomuka said some of the key reasons behind municipalities being under administration were political instability, unfunded budgets and irregular expenditure in councils.
But the interventions in municipalities such as Msunduzi (Pietermaritzburg), Mpofana (Mooi River), and uThukela District had shown encouraging results, which included:
* Municipalities being able to fill vacant posts at senior management level.
* Spending all the grants meant for service delivery projects.
* Committees being able to hold meetings and councils holding regular sittings, as per the requirement.
* Implementation of disciplinary measures against errant senior managers.
* Settling of debt, some of it dating back to 2016.
Abaqulusi Municipality (Vryheid) had shown positive results after legal action was taken against him for the misappropriation of funds.
“The success of our intervention here is the fact that the finance official who misappropriated funds from the municipal accounts has been disciplined and dismissed. The matter was also reported to the police. A total of R3.5 million out of R3.9m has been recovered. The former official is now attending a criminal case. The municipality is currently approaching the courts to secure the balance of the money,” said Hlomuka.
In the same municipality, old Eskom debt of R68m was settled in December 2020, and its current Eskom account was up to -date, and creditors’ debt had been reduced to R8.2m from R100m.
In Mtubatuba Municipality on the North Coast internal investigations had resulted in 15 employees, including middle and junior managers, being dismissed for misconduct.
While noting the successes the MEC was at pains to admit that uMkhanyakude District Municipality and Nquthu Local Municipality were not showing signs of improving.
Part of the problems cited were political instability with council sittings unable to continue owing to disagreements, and a failure to investigate fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
Despite the setbacks, Hlomuka insisted that the provincial government would continue to work to ensure that municipalities in KZN functioned properly and were able to meet their service delivery objectives.
“Our municipalities as a whole will not be allowed to deteriorate any further under the watch of this sixth administration. As you can see, we are managing to turn the tide despite a huge amount of resistance from some of the municipalities we are trying to help,” said the MEC.