Pietermaritzburg - KwaZulu-Natal Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube has cited low education levels among councillors as one of the reasons that some municipalities were at risk of collapse.
Delivering the department’s budget at the KZN Legislature on Thursday, she revealed that a large percentage of the councillors elected in 2016 had no post-matric qualification and in some instances councillors had no schooling at all.
“When addressing issues of capacity building, it is important to note that amongst the 2016 intake of 1 846 councillors in KZN, 322 only had matric and 238 had no matric, while four of the latter had no schooling at all,” said Dube-Ncube.
She conceded that despite conducting orientation workshops for councillors, low education levels were evident in the way that oversight was conducted. There have been concerns that some municipalities in KZN are getting bad audit opinions because councillors are not properly equipped to adequately read documents from municipal officials which provides room for corrupt and other maladministration practices to occur.
She added that in response to this finding, the department had put the brakes on some appointments at municipalities where candidates were not properly qualified. “We have to date made decisions nullifying seven full-time applications and 33 acting applications for the appointments of the municipal managers or senior managers not qualifying in municipalities,” the MEC continued.
As an additional measure to deal with fraud and corruption, the department with the assistance from provincial treasury, had launched a total of 16 investigations at municipalities across KZN, with six being finalised and ten nearing completion.
She told Members of the Provincial Legislature (MPLs) that while there were often negative reports about the state of local government in KZN and nationally, economic growth and investment was taking place within the jurisdictions of municipalities in KZN. She added that her department had also gone a long way in efforts to reduce poverty through the Extended Public Works Programme. “Our Community Workers Programme and EPWP workers are playing important roles in wards by ensuring refuse removal, clean neighborhoods, and air pollution control. We anticipate that in the current financial year, these programmes will accommodate close to 42,600 beneficiaries,” said the MEC.
Dube-Ncube stressed that consumer debt owed to municipalities remained a challenge as it stood at R16.4-billion. The debt comprised R512-million by national and provincial departments, R1.1-billion by businesses, R5.1-billion by households, while the remainder was by other debtors.
African News Agency/ANA