This is why service delivery is being hampered in eThekwini, opposition councillors charge
Durban – KEY committees in the eThekwini Municipality are not sitting, which is hampering service delivery and the ability of councillors to monitor the City’s performance.
The committees each have chairpersons and deal with different issues, including Community Services, Human Settlements and Infrastructure, and Finance, Security and Emergency Services.
The lack of committee meetings was raised as a problem during an executive committee (exco) meeting yesterday.
Opposition party councillors said the chaos regarding these committees led to them being unable to sit to process reports.
The councillors alleged this has led to many service delivery programmes being stalled because councillors did not have the necessary reports.
The dearth of reports was clear during the meeting yesterday, which lasted for just two hours, with about 10 reports tabled.
DA councillor Thabani Mthethwa said they usually had a calendar for committee meetings for the year, but that had not been the case since the new leadership took over.
“There is no explanation, the situation is just chaotic. It’s common for the chairperson (of a committee) to cancel meetings on the day of the meeting or the day before. It seems there is mistrust between people leading these committees because if the chairperson of the committee is not available, the deputy chairperson should lead the meeting,” he said.
Mthethwa said the issue was having a serious impact on service delivery.
IFP caucus leader Mdu Nkosi said the situation was a crisis. He said exco meetings were not as frequent as they should be because the committees were not sitting.
Matters have to first be discussed in the committees before they are referred to exco.
“Remember that we are full-time councillors in exco, that means we should be sitting every week. When that does not happen, that means there is a problem.
“The failure of these committees to sit is also robbing us – as councillors on the opposition benches – of playing an oversight role.”
Nkosi said this also had a huge impact on service delivery.
“Let’s say that there is a report on rehabilitating water infrastructure to supply water to the community. That report must be processed by the committee first, as it cannot come directly to exco. If the committee does not process it, it will not come to exco and the community will not get that water.”
Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said the problem was serious and should be promptly addressed.
“We call on the chairpersons of the committees and the city’s deputy city managers to ensure there are meetings and they have clear agendas each month.
“It cannot be that a city of our size does not have issues to discuss, while people are suffering.
Local government expert and former eThekwini municipal manager Mike Sutcliffe said that, ideally, these committees should meet at least once a month, except in July and December.
He said the committees have different roles that include oversight and looking at policy.
Meanwhile, exco members yesterday also discussed returning to in- person council meetings.
Speaker of the council, Weziwe Thusi, said she had spoken to other party leaders in the council regarding the resumption of in-person meetings, and party leaders were not opposed to making such a move.
She said the council should find a bigger venue to allow for social distancing and have alternative options for councillors with comorbidity issues.
DA caucus leader Nicole Graham said the current virtual exco meeting was a good way to continue working.
“But we believe in-person council meetings for the full council sitting should resume, as these are difficult to manage virtually,” she said.