Andrew Louw, MPL
DA Northern Cape: Provincial Leader
The Democratic Alliance finds it unfathomable that, despite the dire strait in which Northern Cape municipalities find themselves in, non-compliance within local government continues to flourish without any consequences whatsoever. In this regard, the DA is of the view that the Department of Cooperative Government, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs is failing dismally in its duty to facilitate accountable and highly effective municipalities in the province.
According to the first quarterly report of COGHSTA that was recently presented in a legislature portfolio committee meeting, not a single municipality in the province submitted a quarterly performance report. Similarly, not one municipality submitted its annual performance report timeously. These are but two examples of blatant non-compliance by our municipalities but there are many far more serious ones.
In spite of the obvious fact that senior officials within municipalities are not doing their jobs, however, no disciplinary matters were being monitored in municipalities in the first quarter. At the same time, by the end of the first quarter, only three section 57 managers had signed employment contracts. It is precisely this kind of inherent inability of holding senior officials to account, that is largely responsible for enabling an environment in which financial mismanagement and corruption can thrive.
The DA is of the firm view that action must be taken against senior managers and councils who fail in the basic duty of managing the public’s money effectively and transparently. Where officials violate the principles of the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA), they must be charged and, if found guilty, they must be removed from office.
The DA calls for more urgent action to be taken in terms of capacitating COGHSTA to not only be able to efficiently monitor and support municipalities, but also to enable COGHSTA with sufficient enforcement powers to be able to impose disciplinary measures for non-compliance. This is critical because good governance is largely dependent on the extent to which officials are held accountable for poor management. And at present, the majority of our municipalities are acting as a law unto themselves, with little regard for compliance and even less regard for being able to account for their actions.
The cycle of poor management of local government finance will only be broken if we rigorously apply existing governance frameworks and support those frameworks through clear and implementable regulations and rid our municipalities of public servants who have no intention to serve the public.