Gauteng municipalities 'doing well' - MEC

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Johannesburg - Gauteng Local Government MEC Humphrey Mmemezi says the province's municipalities were "doing very well" in delivering services their communities. 

He met with mayors from the 15 municipalities in Gauteng on Thursday in a meeting officials said was aimed at evaluating the performance of local municipalities in the past five years. 

"From where we sit, we can say without fear of contradiction that Gauteng has done very well and the municipalities continue to do what they are expected to do in the Constitution (sic) ... We have seen drastic improvements in how municipalities spend their money and we continue to provide the necessary support to ensure that money is well spent on the services that need to be provided," he said. 

Eleven of the province's municipalities received unqualified reports from the Auditor General for the 2009/2010 financial year, while three had their reports qualified.

But on Thursday, Mmemezi said he was happy with manner in which most municipalities ran their affairs, adding that the province will continue to render support to struggling local authorities. 

In its report presented to the MEC, the Lesedi local municipality in Sedibeng said it had spent R50 million on roads and storm water drains, while saying R18 million was used to build an early childhood centre. 

Authorities conceded that maintenance of roads remained a major challenge, admitting that the municipality was still to construct a 47 kilometer stretch of road and storm water in fomalised stands. 

The Randfontein Municipality said it had completed a 7-kilometer electricity line for 500 households, while West Rand District Municipality listed eradication of the bucket system and supply of clear water as among its achievements in the last five years.

Emfuleni local municipality Mayor Assistance Mshudulu highlighted long term plans to address the reported regional sewer challenges in the Vaal area, and said funds had been put aside to integrate sewer plants in the greater Vaal area.

Mshudulu said R3.5 billon has been identified in the long term to address the needs of the regional sewer, which will include sewer plants in Sebokeng, one of the biggest townships in the area. 

"The plants that we are referring to have reached their capacity and we risk a situation where we may be in serious trouble if we don't address the sewer challenges in the area," Mshudulu said. 

South Africa will elect its new local authorities when voters go to the poll in Local Government Election, scheduled for 18 May. 

Mmemezi said part of the task to face the new local government administration in Gauteng will be the issue of the mushrooming informal settlements in the province. 

According to information provided by the provincial government, the number of informal settlements in Gauteng grew from 405 in six years ago to 489 in 2009. 

The provincial housing department has identified 120 to be suitable for formalization, while it said others will be eradicated through relocation to other identified areas. The report also found that while Gauteng was regarded as the richest province in the country, it also had one of the largest numbers of people who were unable to pay their municipal services.

"It's a huge challenge for us because you build here today and tomorrow new people are coming and the demand remains the same so it's really a challenge," said Mmemezi.

As part of its urban renewal programme that the provincial government introduced a few years ago, Gauteng also planned to "renew" several small towns and townships like Westonaria, Krugersdorp, Germiston and Alexandra. 

The plan would also be to reduce the number of municipalities in the province to three metros and two "big" local municipalities. 

"We already have clear plans on how to renew the life of people in those areas and we have already started in to mobilise funding from the private sector to help us in this regard, and I must say we have received positive response from our partners [in the banking sector]".