Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on Tuesday said in some municipalities across the country, governance and political challenges, as well as the inappropriate and toxic relationships between their political and administrative realms and with business, were the cause of some of the obstacles they faced.
Dlamini-Zuma was addressing the annual Local Government Week hosted by the national council of provinces (NCOP) and South African Local Government Association (Salga).
These challenges, which Dlamini-Zuma said are “not helpful”, include political fighting in some municipalities and in some, members of the local government sphere lose their moral compass resulting in corruption which erodes the trust between the government and citizens.
“This is not all of local government, there are municipalities that are working well, that have good governance and are not corrupt,” said Dlamini-Zuma.
Some challenges are in the administrative arm of some municipalities, she said.
Dlamini-Zuma said these challenges included crucial vacancies like that of municipal managers, chief financial officers and supply chain managers, not being filled or these being filled after a protracted period of time and sometimes when they are eventually filled, inappropriate candidates, sometimes who do not have the suitable qualifications or are friends of connected people or are appointed through nepotism, take up the posts.
The minister said financial management challenges, highlighted by the auditor-general’s reports, were also an issue at some local municipalities, with wasteful expenditure still being reported and audit results generally not being good.
Problems in supply chain management in some local municipalities was also a challenge, the minister said, adding that all these challenges result in poor service delivery, the poor utilisation of a municipality’s budget “and therefore the dissatisfaction of the citizens” who experience governance through local government.
Poor political oversight and poor administrative and financial management will result in “a lot of dissatisfaction” in communities, which necessitates for all these challenges to be resolved, said Dlamini-Zuma.
The minister added that some municipalities faced the challenge of not having a proper tax base, or revenue collection “and therefore they are financially unviable”.
She added that the number of municipalities deemed financially unviable has increased to 125 and that the Covid-19 pandemic may adversely impact municipalities that had raised adequate revenue.
This, she said, would be due to job losses and residents then failing to pay for services.
The minister said they may be an increase in the number of indigents in some municipalities, which will negatively impact their revenue.
There was a need to address organisational factors in some local municipalities, which include, among others, mismanagement, a lack of transparency, a shortage of technical skills and a lack of coordination between the three spheres of government, namely, local, provincial and national government, the minister said.
Dlamini-Zuma said local government cannot be the only sphere of government to blame for the challenges it faces, the provincial and national spheres should also take the blame.