Local government is suffering a reputational crisis as it is perceived to be incompetent, disorganised and riddled with corruption — perceptions which “at best we will be naive, and at worst, arrogant to simply brush off”, acting Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nathi Mthethwa recently said.
Faltering service, crumbling infrastructure, maladministration and corruption were among the issues highlighted as problems by communities, and prompting service delivery protests. Local government also always scored the lowest in research surveys on public perceptions about the spheres of government.
He recently told delegates at the South African Local Government Association (Salga) conference in Durban that some municipalities were functioning well, and many councillors were performing efficiently, but “bold leadership” and support from other spheres of government were required to ensure municipalities delivered on their constitutional mandate.
Mthethwa said “drastic action” was required for the third tier of government to become more responsive and accountable and to turn around the negative perceptions — local government is often viewed as the coal- face of service delivery.
He said the local government turnaround strategy adopted in 2009, which becomes the municipal turnaround strategy at municipal level, needed to be integrated with municipal budgets and integrated development plans (IDPs).
Plans to target areas where service delivery backlogs were the highest needed to be completed by municipalities by the end of next month. Provinces and municipalities would be required to establish human settlements committees to oversee housing development in municipalities.
A concept document on the revised ward committee framework had been developed to deepen democracy. Community work programmes should be further supported, Mthethwa said. He said all 278 municipalities would also have to establish municipal public accounts committees by November 30 to promote good governance and help achieve clean audits.
Planning Minister Trevor Manuel said IDPs needed to include a broader range of developmental needs such as the provision of healthcare and rest and relaxation facilities.
He said municipalities needed to receive more funding and other government resources. When local governments built houses, they did not receive a concurrent increase in funding and this “puts local government in stress”.
Questioned about the performance of municipalities over the past five years, Salga chairman Amos Masondo said service delivery such as electrification, housing and road construction, was continuing, but “much more needs to be done”.
Credit to: Business Day