Municipalities continue to fail people by Zodumo Sishi
It is of increasing concern that most major projects aimed at changing the lives of South Africans end up failing dismally year after year. Must one then assume that South Africa does not have well qualified, skilled and competent people with the ability to save our failing Government? I don’t believe that for a second. What exactly lies at the core of this challenge? Why is our beautiful country quickly deteriorating, instead of moving forward? This is something we see happening within all three spheres of Government.
Twenty-five (25) years into democracy, what should we say to those who supported South Africa worldwide and to the families of those who sacrificed their lives to make South Africa a better place? What went wrong?
We have a strategically drafted prescript which is the Constitution of our country. This is considered the supreme law of the Republic of South Africa, and the obligations imposed by it should be executed according to the Constitution, the core function and duty of municipalities are to manage the administration, budget and planning processes on behalf of residents. A municipality furthermore must give priority to the basic needs of the communities, promote the social and economic development of communities and participate in National and Provincial developmental programmes.
When it comes to Co-operative Governance, the Constitution also prescribes that National and Provincial Governments must support and strengthen the capacity of municipalities to manage their own affairs and perform their functions, however - the exact opposite has been happening. Almost all municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal alone are dysfunctional and failing to manage their resources. It appears that both Provincial and National CoGTA are reactive instead of pro-active when it comes to the support they are supposed to provide to municipalities.
It would appear that the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs in KwaZulu-Natal - Ms Nomusa Dube-Ncube, has not been proactively dealing with challenges facing municipalities in the province. To date a total number of six (6) KwaZulu-Natal Municipalities have been declared dysfunctional and the MEC has taken over the administration of the historically incompetent and failing Msunduzi Municipality. Placing the municipality under administration could have been avoided if there was continued support and timeous intervention from the MEC and National CoGTA. This is the second time Msunduzi Municipality’s administration has been taken over by Government, a clear indication that there are no preventative measures put in place by the two higher spheres of Government to prevent this catastrophic turn of events.
What will become of KwaZulu-Natal when the Mpofana, Mtubatuba, Abaqulusi, Richmond, Nkosi Langalibalele, Endumeni and Msunduzi municipalities are failing to deliver even basic services, leaving their residents to suffer? Municipalities have become playgrounds for some political leaders and officials who abuse their positions for personal gain and enrichment at the expense of the people. This results in uncontrollable maladministration, shocking corruption, fruitless and irregular expenditure, political interference and the employment of poorly skilled officials to run municipal offices. These officials receive jobs not because they necessarily meet the requirements, but as a payback following their contributions in mobilising people to put certain individuals into power.
The prescripts developed to ensure proper governance that are largely ignored include Integrated Development Plans (IDPs), the State of the Nation Address which outlines priority projects for the country, the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) and the Provincial Growth Development Strategy / Plan. All of these documents are meant to provide guidance to all spheres of Government during their project implementation processes. Ensuring that they respond directly to the needs of the people who should, strictly speaking be consulted throughout the process to involve community members.
So, with strict legislation and processes in place, one should ask what more can be done to ensure that government do what they should be doing, i.e. serve the people. The answer lies with civil society. Civil society, through organisations such as OUTA, can and should monitor and evaluate municipal performance and develop the tools to ensure accountability. Relying on Government to govern itself is a dream of the past. It is up to us, the people of this beautiful country, to restore local governance by becoming active citizens in our communities. Support OUTA and let’s take hands to turn this country around.
• Zodumo Sishi is Communications Coordinator at OUTA’s KZN branch