The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) has initiated an intervention programme that will assist to build capacity in distressed municipalities, Minister Zweli Mkhize has revealed.
The first phase of the programme will see 55 municipalities with perennial records of underspending turned around. Mkhize made the revelation in Parliament during the tabling of the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent’s (MISA) 2017/18 annual report.
“Targeted support to these municipalities is being provided through district support teams comprising experts in various fields such as engineering, project management, finance, governance and geographic information system (GIS), among others. MISA is key in the implementation of this programme, working with the Back to Basics team in the Department, National Treasury and Provincial Governments,” the Minister said on Monday.
Mkhize expressed concern that several municipalities were struggling to spend Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) allocations.
He noted that inroads had been made in the strengthening of capacity in municipalities.
“Significant strides have been made in the filling of vacancies, particularly the appointment of engineers and other technical personnel as permanent employees,” he said.
“The strengthening of capacity in municipalities can only be sustained through the recruitment of suitably qualified people for critical positions. This will be achieved through, among others, the creation of a skills pipeline by training graduates and artisans, as well as upskilling of individuals already employed by municipalities to become professionals in their respective fields. MISA has done very well in the year under review to move COGTA and the country towards this trajectory.”
Mkhize lauded MISA for obtaining an unqualified opinion for the year under review. The audit outcome is an improvement from the overall audit outcome from the previous financial year. The agency has obtained an unqualified opinion for five consecutive years since it started reporting as a separate entity.
MISA, which is Cogta’s implementing agent, has the mandate of providing technical support to municipalities for effective and efficient development and maintenance of basic services infrastructure.
“MISA also continued with the setting up of the Programme Management Office (PMO) established to manage implementation of support for 27 districts prioritised by cabinet in view of relatively high service backlogs still prevalent within their spaces,” the Ministry said in a statement.
The Inter-Ministerial Task Team for service delivery will intensify efforts towards reducing backlogs in these 27 districts and other municipalities in line with targets set in Outcome 9 of the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTEF) for five years to 2019. – SAnews.gov.za