KZN Cabinet Not Serious About Service Delivery

George Mari, MPP

DA KZN COGTA Spokesperson

A QUICK glance at the department’s budget reveals that the baseline increase is approximately R17.8 million compared with the last financial year – this meager increase will not begin to address the challenges that lie within this department or the many ills that exist within KwaZulu-Natal’s municipalities.

Last year the department saw a budget increase of R76 million and this year it is R17.8 million – a very significant decrease. This is against the backdrop of an increasing number of service delivery protests, as communities take to the street demanding basic services such as water and electricity.

Admittedly, the Hon.MEC has tried hard to deal with some of the very serious deficiencies in her Department and the rot within municipalities. I am not sure though, whether the same excuse for underfunding this very important department last year – because it is not an implementing agent – still stands?

This begs the question – how serious is this cabinet serious about delivery?

Last year I drew attention to the downward trend in service delivery for water, electricity and sanitation. Let me once again quote the figures from the department’s own records;

  Backlogs 2005/6 Delivered 2006/7 Backlogs 2007 Delivered 2007/8 Backlogs 2008 Delivered 2008/9
Water 707 175 175 961 531 214 96 567 434 647 38 840
Sanitation 1 078 831 25 442 1 053 389 31 613 1 021 776 38 055
Electricity 773 644 36 769 736 875 21 768 715 107 21 110

Perhaps the MEC can tell us today whether the millennium goals have been reached or the situation has improved. We also need to know whether there is an improvement for 2010 and 2011 and whether the Massification Programme has begun and, if so, what the results are.

The Annual Performance Plan tabled yesterday speaks of several policy mandates, strategic framework, provincial programme of action and a turnaround strategy. It also talks about the Ten Provincial Priorities – rural development, education and skills, economic development, creating decent work and jobs, good governance, social and economic Infrastructure and others. This is all good and well but without the necessary resources of skills and capacity and the requisite funding it will not happen.

The DA calls on the Honourable MEC to put politics aside and look seriously at the Youth Wage Subsidy. As a party, we have been calling for this subsidy for 10 years. Both President Zuma and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan have stated their support for a Youth Wage Subsidy in the State of the Nation Address and Budget Speech in 2010. The estimated cost to government is R5 Billion – not much when compared with government losses of R30 Billion due to wasteful expenditure and corruption. The Youth Wage Subsidy will create approximately 178 000 new jobs. Honourable MEC – imagine the impact this will have in fighting poverty and unemployment. Think about it. COSATU is the only roadblock to its implementation.

The DA welcomes the department’s turnaround strategy. Despite the fact that we have heard similar plans on numerous occasions we support this initiative. The strategy again talks about ensuring that municipalities meet the needs of the communities, improving performance levels, service delivery and developing effective and accountable governance that will respond to communities needs. Right now, this is not happening at the rate it should.

There are new councilors and leaderships within many municipalities who require urgent training on oversight so that they are able to guarantee monies are spent efficiently to ensure effective service delivery. The rot is endless – fraud, corruption, irregular expenditure, wasteful and fruitless expenditure, mismanagement, flouting of supply chain processes, abuse of Section 36 Notices, nepotism, cadre deployment – all of this is destroying service delivery as the need for greed increases.

Other areas where the MEC must act are;

– Ethekwini – The MEC must take immediate action over the contents of the Manase report. Her failure to intervene is in stark contrast with Msundusi, which was placed under provincial management and ANC councilors removed.

– Municipal animal pounds – livestock continue to pose a serious threat to road users and the MEC must ensure that funding allocated to municipalities for the purpose of building animal pounds by the end of this year are used correctly. The DA will monitor progress around this.

– Rehabilitation of small towns – Ulundi, Nongoma, Colenso, Underberg, Bulwer, Ixopo, Tugela Ferry and numerous other small towns are in a shocking state. Monies must be committed to rehabilitate them in order to enhance economic development.

– No more parties Madam MEC. The R800 000 spent on a bash to congratulate municipalities on clean audits is an appalling waste of money that should be spent on service delivery. Even those municipalities that failed to perform were invited.

– Review the disestablishment of Umsekeli. Doing away with this service has left the province with a huge resource problem.

– Disaster management – despite ongoing disasters within the province, KZN is ill-equipped financially to deal with them and the response is slow. The MEC must pressure national government for additional funding in this area.

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