The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) is of the considered view that generally, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) does not inspire confidence by its slow turnaround in resolving some of the challenges that cripple municipalities in the province.
The committee was in the province this weekend on an oversight programme to assess the state of the identified municipalities that include districts and local municipalities.
The committee raised its unhappiness on non-attendance of its meetings by the provincial government’s MEC for Cogta, Sipho Hlomuka.
The committee said the Constitution and the Municipal Systems Act provide remedies to some of the challenges faced by municipalities, which KZN Cogta “has ignored”.
“That ignorance, the committee said, deepens the challenges faced by the municipalities.
“The committee is concerned that UMkhanyakude District Municipality which has not had an ordinary council sitting since 31 March 2020 operates outside the legal framework that requires municipalities to hold one council meeting at least per quarter. Also, the council has not considered unauthorised, irregular, wasteful and fruitless (UIWF) expenditure investigation reports, some of which have been outstanding for about five years.
“To date, the municipality has UIWF expenditure of R2.7 billion, the second highest in the province and, is among the top 10 municipalities in the country. The committee attributes the municipality’s crisis partly on negligence on the part of the provincial department of CoGTA.
“As a result, the committee resolved that the council of the municipality must, within the next 14 days, sit to deal with all the outstanding matters of UIWF investigations and all other matters within the council’s purview. In the event of failure of the council to meet, the provincial department must provide the committee with valid reasons for failure to meet. Furthermore, the committee has instructed the provincial department of Cogta to, within 30 days indicate why it has not instituted section 139 intervention in the municipality.
“Following the council sitting to consider, among other things, investigation reports, the committee said, the Anti-corruption task team must provide it with a report no later than 31 January 2021 on all issues within the municipality over the last 9 years,” a statement from the committee reads.
The committee resolved to undertake an in-loco site visit, between now and the end of January 2021, to UMkhanyakude District Municipality and local municipalities within the district to assess first-hand challenges within the district.
Committee chair Mkhuleko Hlengwa said: “What we want is to ensure that municipalities are functional for the benefit of the people to ensure that service delivery is of a requisite quality.”
The committee also highlighted concerns over other municipalities, including Mpofana, Richmond, uMgungundlovu, Nquthu and Zululand District Municipality.
Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu