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Salga chairperson says coalition is a big elephant in the room in the local government sphere

Published Feb 15, 2023


Cape Town - The chairperson of the South African Local Government Association (Salga), Bheki Stofile, has proposed to Parliament that there be some changes in the local government sphere in the wake of the unstable coalition governments in several municipalities across the country.

Stofile said the coalition governments which came into power after November 2021 local government elections were the most unstable and called on the government to take another look at the system and possibly review it.

He said when services were not delivered to communities, they looked at their municipalities and blamed them.

“This animal called coalition rob the majority of our people, majority of our people went and vote, when they vote you political parties you lock yourself in the room and cut the cake according to what is your interest and the time communities locked outside there.

“When service delivery is not rendered they blame the local municipality, we are calling to government, we are calling to Parliament to act on this because it’s a problem that is going to be with us for a very long time.

“And we suggest that there must be certain instruments that must be introduced,” Stofile told the sitting of both houses convened to debate last week’s State of the Nation Address by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Though not succinctly clear about how they want Parliament to act, he implied that the executive committee system should be changed – but did not say in favour of which system.

In the executive committee (exco) which is practised in major cities like Durban and all KwaZulu-Natal municipalities, the exco seats are shared by the top three or four parties with majority seats.

This then allows even opposition parties to have seats in the exco and later occupy the opposition benches.

At some point, frustrated by the presence of opposition parties in the exco, the former mayor of eThekwini, Zandile Gumede, proposed to the former KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, to change the system to be a mayoral one.

Gumede’s call was shot down.

Stofile told Parliament that in the exco system, everyone who is part of a coalition demands the right to employ senior officials, thus creating chaos and instability.

“In the coalition government, everyone demands to have a right to employ and that is why you (see) the emergence and rise of employment costs in the municipalities because it’s a problem that we must all deal with because leadership, political parties lock themselves in a room discussing who should lead that municipality.

“One of the disputes is over benefits as a political party. And that issue must be dealt with,” he said.

Stofile further implored parties represented in both Houses of Parliament to sit down and urgently resolve the challenges brought by coalition governments.

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