Mier intervention welcomed but more interventions needed

Dirk Stubbe, MP

Shadow Deputy Minister of Police

The Democratic Alliance welcomes the intervention by MEC of COGHSTA, Alvin Botes, into the Mier Municipality, which is no doubt one of the province’s worst performing municipalities. However, for him to really make a difference in the state of local government in the province, the DA is of the view that he also needs to tackle similarly dismal performance in some of our other municipalities.

As far back as February this year, the DA already called for a high level intervention into the Mier municipality. This after it had come to light that the said municipality was struggling to pay its January 2013 salaries and was assumed to be on the verge of bankruptcy. At the time, however, our cries fell on the deaf ears of former COGHSTA MEC, Kenneth Mmoeimang. We are therefore pleased to see that Botes has a more hands-on approach than his predecessor.

Mier, however, is just one of many local governments in the province to be characterized by poor audit outcomes. Mier municipality is also only one of eight municipalities that was warned by National Treasury in January this year that it was at risk of having its transfers of the municipality’s remaining share of the 2012/13 Equitable Share and conditional grants allocations, stopped.  In this regard, Renosterberg, Joe Morolong, Kai! Garieb and Kgatelopele municipalities, whose financial management was bordering on crisis mode, also received similar warnings from National Treasury.

Last year, Auditor-General Terence Nombembe, largely attributed the poor audit outcomes of these and other municipalities to serious skill and internal control deficiencies. According to Nombembe, inadequately skilled staff filled key positions at 90% of the province’s municipalities. The bottom line therefore is that there are too many senior officials in management posts in municipalities, who do not have the skills and qualifications required to properly administer the finances.

Whilst the DA understands that COGHSTA has limited capacity, and would not realistically be able to take over the running of all poorly performing municipalities, we would like to call on Botes to also fast-track the implementation of the revised Municipal Systems Act, which is aimed at addressing skills shortages. This will force municipalities to fill vacancies and employ only qualified personnel in senior managerial posts. This is the cornerstone of improving the state of local government.