Municipal debt recovery requires high level action

Andrew Louw, MPL

DA Northern Cape: Provincial Leader

The Democratic Alliance is concerned that municipalities, together with the Northern Cape Department of Cooperative Government, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (COGHSTA), are not taking the issue of debt redemption seriously. We will submit a parliamentary question to MEC Kenneth Mmoeimang, to ascertain how much is owed to local governments in the province.

National Treasury recently reported that R77,6 billion is owed to local governments across South Africa. However, during COGHSTA’s recent presentation of their first quarterly report at the provincial legislature, it came to light that no municipalities in the Northern Cape submitted progress on debt recovered in the first quarter.

The DA has to wonder how this can be, especially in lieu of the fact that four municipalities in the province are currently receiving assistance in terms of a R24 million allocation from provincial treasury to appoint service providers who are tasked with turning around the situation in local governments. If these municipalities and COGHSTA were indeed taking this intervention seriously, surely they would have put better measures in place to ensure that critical reports are submitted and received.

A municipality’s ability to function depends on the money it collects from other spheres of government and ratepayers. Without a revenue stream, it cannot deliver services and invest in infrastructure. In other words, without a revenue stream, it becomes futile. It is then little wonder that local government services across the province are desperately lacking.

Service delivery is failing in ANC-governed municipalities because deployed cadres are still appointed instead of skilled professionals with the expertise to keep municipal finances in shape. Even the Auditor-General has alluded to the fact that the poor audit outcomes in the province reflect the serious skill and internal control deficiencies at municipalities.

The DA is of the view that if government wants to sort out municipal finances, the regulations in the Municipal Systems Act that stipulate the education, skills and experience requirements for municipal managers and senior officials must be finalized and properly implemented.

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