Local Government MEC must take action against non-performing officials

Dacre Haddon MPL

Shadow MEC for Local Government

The 2011/12 annual report of the Department of Local Government and Traditional Affairs will be debated in the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature this afternoon.

Hesitation and inaction by the MEC for Local Government and his department has caused weak management of municipalities in the province.

The Eastern Cape MEC for Local Government and Traditional Affairs, Mlibo Qoboshiyane, must take ruthless action against non-performing municipal- and departmental officials or face a vote of no confidence.

I will, on behalf of the Democratic Alliance, in my speech to the Provincial Legislature suggest ways in which the MEC must immediately start taking action against incapacity and fiduciary mismanagement of municipal officials.

For far too long the public has been hearing on a daily basis how municipal governance in this province has become dysfunctional.

However, little if anything, is done to bring lazy and incapacitated departmental- and municipal officials to book or to sufficiently capacitate these individuals to effectively discharge their duties.

The MEC has vacillated in the saga of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro’s acting municipal manager. Themba Hani was illegally appointed by the MEC for a further acting period, then dismissed and then re-appointed during last week.

This is one of many such incidents of weak local government management by the province.

The hesitation with which the department will not intervene into the bankrupt Gariep Municipality using Section 139 of the Constitution is of great concern.

Why has the MEC attempted not to have the Gobodo- rand Kabuso reports, which contain allegations of fraud, made public as soon as they were released?

The dubious appointments of municipal- and other managers to senior positions in municipalities after being found guilty of financial misconduct is of great concern.

Furthermore some of these individuals received massive settlements from their erstwhile municipalities despite, being found guilty of improper conduct.

Why have only 22 out of 45 municipalities in the province complied with performance management- and appraisal assessments?

Performance management is a useful tool to gauge employee functioning and to identify gaps that can be addressed through training to better capacitate municipal officials.

The Code of Conduct in Schedule 2 of the Municipal Systems Act is not being enforced in municipalities to bring errant officials to book.

The on-going bailing out of and assistance to municipalities from the department is proving ineffective and costly.

The following immediate measures should be implemented to ensure better capacitating of municipalities:

These include:

* The formation of a combined national and provincial task team, based in the department, to be able to react immediately to crises in municipalities;

* Ensure that all departmental- and municipal budgeting is done in accordance with “activity costing” principles;

* Each municipality has its own level of autonomy based on its geographical location and individual circumstances and not hamstrung by a one-size-fits-all approach;

* Where possible, every municipality has a “one stop shop” and the outsourcing of functions like refuse and security to create competition among suppliers which would enhance service and drive down costs for municipal consumers; and

* Ensure that all municipal officials affected by the 2007 national grace period to attain the necessary skills by January 2013 have these skills and if not, that they be replaced by those who do have the necessary qualifications.

The communities of the Eastern Cape are angry and frustrated at the poor service delivery in the province. Unless the MEC and his department act swiftly to diffuse this volatile situation the consequences for this province will be dire.

The time has come for the Legislature to consider a vote of no confidence in the current MEC for Local Government.

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