Shiceka releases report on state of local govt

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Johannesburg - A report released by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Sicelo Shiceka has shown the good, the bad and the ugly picture of the state of local government in South Africa.

The report, which was released today during a two-day local government indaba, singled out genuine issues of corruption, fraud, governance, financial mismanagement and nepotism.

With regard to governance, the report reveals an absence of early warning systems to alert provincial and national departments of impending failure or disaster.

According to the report, there was also unclear allocation of roles and responsibilities of the municipal manager, mayor and the chief whip.

It also shows that there were too many opportunities for fraud and corruption to take place because of weak accountability frameworks.

The report further shows irregular and unprocedural suspensions, dismissals and disciplinary procedures within municipalities, lack of labour law for senior managers as well as wasteful expenditure in defending labour cases.

However, according to the report, there were some things that local government was doing right, such as accelerating access to basic services to the poor.

According to the report, in a recent review of local government by National Treasury, access to electricity had increased by 10 percent since 2001, flush toilets by 6 percent and water by 4 percent.

Shiceka urged delegates to make recommendations regarding all key aspects which they believe were no longer functioning in local government.

"The era of resisting change is over. As local government, we need to be responsive, effective, efficient and accountable to communities. Local government should be everyone's business," he said.

According to the minister, the report which will help them develop the local government turn around strategy will be presented to the Cabinet and provincial legislatures soon.

Shiceka said government must be based at ward level, with ward councilors executing their duties as governors.

He told delegates that while there was a need to create various sub-committees; Community Development Workers (CDW's) must work like Chief Executive Officers at the ward level.

On Tuesday, President Jacob Zuma met with executive mayors, mayors and municipal managers to discuss improving service delivery in municipalities.

During the meeting, Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency Collins Chabane said a national effort was needed to improve the capacity of local government.

Chabane said the indaba would set time frames on issues which relate to municipalities and provincial governments and the next step would be for Cabinet to adopt a set of time frames with regard to issues related to national departments.

He said he was confident that once that had been done, government would then be able to make sure that those things which have been agreed upon are implemented.

"As you can see most of the issues relate to reform of local Government, Institutions, Legislation and procedures.

"Those issues you can't say you will have finished by December. You need to give a particular process which will outline this to get them amended or to get changes to take place with the necessary consultations with the various stakeholders," the minister said yesterday.