Govt to host summit of all ward committees

Friday, July 24, 2009

Nelspruit - The Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs is planning to host a summit of all ward committees to deal with public participation and communication.

This comes after a report by a task team set up by Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Sicelo Shiceka, found that there was a lack of public participation and communication at local level.

The preliminary findings of the report were presented to the minister on Thursday during a visit to the province.

The task team, which was dispatched to Mpumalanga last Friday, investigated the problems facing local municipalities which could have contributed to the recent upsurge in service delivery protests in the province.

A lack of responsiveness to issues raised by communities, tensions between the political and administrative sections of the municipalities, ward committees that are not fully functional, resulting in poor communication with communities and financial mismanagement and allegations of fraud and corruption were some of the concerns raised in the report.

The report also found there was poor planning, maintenance and management of infrastructure resulting in poor service delivery and IDP and budgeting processes not aligned in some municipalities.

The task team focused on Thaba Chweu, Albert Luthuli, eMalahleni, eMkhondo, Pixley ka Seme, Govan Mbeki, Steve Tshwete and Msukaligwa, for their initial assessment. These municipalities have experienced the most violent protests in recent weeks.

The interim report presents an immediate and urgent assessment regarding the incidents of municipal protests and unrest. It will be followed by a full assessment of the state of municipalities and an audit of service delivery in the province which will commence next week.

The minister's visit to Nelspruit on Thursday followed Premier David Mabuza and MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Norman Mokoena, requesting support from national government in dealing with the situation.

"We are here to support the MEC, and from next week when the task team begins to get into a more in-depth investigation, until the final report is presented around 21 August, MEC Mokoena will lead the process," Minister Shiceka said.

The department has urged municipalities to go back to communities and engage them on their programmes and funded projects.

While addressing the people's concerns, government has condemned the acts of violence, intimidation, destruction of property and criminality that have marked the protests in the province.

In a statement by the department, government urged the police not to hesitate to act against the perpetrators.

Government further condemned the attacks on foreign nationals in Balfour. "The attacks on foreign nationals in these protests is a further act of criminality which will not be tolerated, especially in a country where we are preparing to host the entire world for the 2010 FIFA World Cup next year," said Minister Shiceka.

He said such acts take away from any genuine grievances that anyone may be presenting to government.