Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Zweli Mkhize. Picture: @DrZweliMkhize/Twitter

Johannesburg - Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Zweli Mkhize, said on Monday that he wants to empower the country's municipalities with key personnel in a bid to help them deal with governance and administration, financial management and service delivery issues.

Speaking in Pretoria at the sending off ceremony of 81 newly-appointed engineers and town-planners to support distressed municipalities, Mkhize said that the ability of municipalities to plan, deliver, operate and maintain infrastructure was dependent on the capacity of officials to execute their responsibilities. 

Mkhize said that it was not ideal that a total of R3.4 billion in municipal infrastructure grants had been reallocated from underspending municipalities to better spending municipalities. 

"I made a commitment that Cogta would, through our implementing agent, the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent, (MISA) urgently support 55 struggling municipalities to spend their infrastructure allocations. I said we would deploy District Technical Support Teams in the affected municipalities," Mkhize said.

"I said this was not ideal as it tended to penalize municipalities with a lower capacity and hence punishing the poorer communities. This cannot continue, rather alternatives must be found to support service delivery to poorer communities. We want to solve once and for all, the problem of money being sent back due to failure to spend it by municipalities."

Only seven percent of the country's municipalities are classified as well-functioning, with 31% being reasonably functional, 31% almost dysfunctional while the remaining 31% is dysfunctional. 

The situation in the country has been such that only 55 municipalities out of 257 had engineers leading their technical divisions.

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African News Agency/ANA