Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal chairperson of the SA Local Government Association says the successive natural disasters that have hit the province have put a strain on the maintenance of municipal infrastructure to an extent that even the municipal infrastructure grant (MIG) has become insufficient.
Salga KZN chair Thami Ntuli said the National Treasury and other agencies should consider a new funding model for the local government sphere that will prioritize infrastructure maintenance.
His comment comes after a Salga members assembly that was held in Newcastle last week.
In a statement, Ntuli said it has become clear that municipalities are under pressure following the disasters that have hit the province.
“We have also raised concerns about the funding of municipal infrastructure and the need for a review in light of extreme weather events and flooding that have caused significant damage to infrastructure.
“The current Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) framework is insufficient to address the maintenance demands of existing infrastructure,” Ntuli said.
He added that the new funding model should prioritize maintenance, urging the National Treasury and the Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC) to reconsider how municipal infrastructure is funded and explore options to prioritize maintenance.
Further, Ntuli called on municipalities to reduce their Eskom debts and fairly compensate workers.
“The high debt owed to Eskom by government, households, and businesses, coupled with the lack of support from Eskom in debt collection, poses a significant burden on municipalities.
“We call for immediate measures to reduce Eskom's debt, ensure equal pay for equal work through job evaluation processes, and introduce performance management for every employee,” he pleaded.
On the other hand, Ntuli said Salga is worried that some municipalities in the province are getting poor audit results even after efforts to help them.
“Furthermore, we highlighted the persistent challenges in achieving satisfactory municipal audit outcomes.
“Compliance with the Municipal Finance Management Act remains questionable, and governance structures struggle to prevent irregularities."
He said these municipalities must change the way they operate.
“It is disheartening to see certain municipalities performing poorly and regressing in their audit outcomes.
“We urged these municipalities to prioritize good governance, transparency, and accountability to regain public trust and deliver effective services to their communities,” he said.
He congratulated the City of uMhlathuze (Richards Bay-Empangeni), uKhahlamba (Bergville), and King Cetshwayo District municipalities for receiving two consecutive clean audits.
He said they have set an example other municipalities in the province should follow.