CoGTA minister Zweli Mkhize says municipalities facing operational challenges should take the lead in addressing their challenges. File picture: ANA/Jonisayi Maromo

Bloemfontein - Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) minister Zweli Mkhize says municipalities facing operational challenges should take the lead in addressing their challenges. Mkhize said this when he addressed journalists in Bloemfontein shortly before going into a meeting with the Free State provincial government and several mayors as well as senior municipal officials.

"The approach is very simple, municipalities must take their own decisions to change and recover... turn around the municipalities," said Mkhize. "The Premier and the MECs are here, want to look at what contributions they're going to make to turn things around," he added.

The minister is in the province as part of oversight visits to struggling municipalities across the country. He said he would also address of changes in political leadership in municipalities which in some cases have impacted on operations.

“We will also look into the issue of political instability where there are rapid changes within administration that are causing inadequate institutional memory,” said the Cogta minister. Municipalities in the province were listed among the worst performers in the country for the 2016/17 financial year by the Auditor General Kimi Makwetu when he released audit outcomes for local authorities last month.

No municipality in the province achieved a clean audit. Mangaung Metro regressed from an unqualified audit opinion with findings to a qualified audit opinion. The meeting is expected to come up with intervention programmes to support distressed and dysfunctional municipalities in the province.

A statement released by Cogta this week said the visit forms part of the department’s Back to Basics programme aimed at building functional municipalities. “The purpose of the visit will be to identify and agree on critical and priority challenges for ministerial intervention,” read part of the statement. The other municipalities expected to be part of the engagements are: Mafube, Masilonyana, Maluti-A-Phofung, Kopanong, Letsemeng, Mantsopa, Nketoana, Tokologo and Mohokare.

These local municipalities have been identified as either being distressed or dysfunctional CoGTA supports municipalities in three main ways, namely, governance and administration, service delivery and infrastructure as well as financial management.