National effort needed to help local government

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cape Town - A national effort was needed to improve the capacity of local government, says Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency Collins Chabane.

This was the agreement reached today between premiers, cabinet members, mayors, directors-general and municipal managers and MECs responsible for local government.

This followed a meeting in Khayelitsha between President Jacob Zuma and the mayors and municipal managers of the 283 municipalities.

Chabane said that though local government had made advances in meeting several basic requirements with limited resources, municipalities were still faced with a number of problems.

"It was recognised that there is a need for capacity, particularly poor municipalities which are unable to attract the necessary skills," said Chabane.

Local counsellors were often hamstrung by the inaction of parastatals and Chabane said there was an agreement that all the three spheres of government should work more closely together.

There was also a need to look at reforming local government. Municipalities often battled with government's municipal infrastructure grants to replace local infrastructure.

Chabane said one of the considerations was that grants that went to municipalities would have to be restructured so that they were tailored to the needs of each specific municipality.

An agreement was also reached that "urgent steps" had to be taken for payment of services to be made to municipalities, while careful attention was paid to both the accuracy and legitimacy of these payments.

There was also a need for government to better communicate to the community how it operated, said Chabane.

He said many people in the community were often under the wrong impression that the delivery of housing and electricity fell under municipalities, when it was in fact these were the responsibility of provincial government and Eskom, respectively.

During the meeting Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan made a presentation about the impact the recession was having on municipalities and service delivery.

Chabane said because of the current economic downturn there was a need to improve efficiency and eradicate corruption in municipalities.

The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs along with a number of other stakeholders would meet with local governments tomorrow to trash out the necessary timeframes for key deliverables.

The Presidency would be tasked with monitoring these deliverables.