‘Pretty much in trouble’

2014-10-17 00:00

MUNICIPALITIES in KZN are short R29 billion on funding for water and sanitation infrastructure, and 84% of the province’s water infrastructure is dysfunctional.

Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) municipal infrastructure general manager Noluthando Magewu said at a Munimec meeting at St Ives yesterday that the province needed R40 billion to install properly functioning infrastructure that would allow KZN to run an efficient water and sanitation system.

However, KZN only has R11 billion in available funds.

The information was presented at Munimec, where the MEC for local government meets with the 61 municipalities of KZN to evaluate local government’s performance in key development areas.

“We are not looking after the infrastructure we already have.

“This is the worst news ever. We are celebrating access to water, but 84% of the infrastructure is dysfunctional,” said Magewu. This was because municipalities were not maintaining their existing infrastructure.

Statistics show that the uMgungundlovu Municipality, which includes the districts Richmond and Msunduzi, has a direct water supply backlog of 85,60%.

The eThekwini direct water supply backlog stands at almost 19%.

In uMgungundlovu water tankers are frequently used to meet the needs of the community as the water demand exceeds the ability to supply.

According to information presented at the conference, the cost of water tanker usage in KZN is R294 507 million per annum.

As well as the backlogs in water and sanitation, Magewu said there were major backlogs in service delivery:

• Electricity — 22,1%

• Sanitation — 34,3%

• Water — 21,6%

• Refuse — 46,9%

Magewu said it was vital that sustainable infrastructure be put in place to deal with the backlogs that are a constant thorn in the side of many KZN communities.

Magewu acknowledged the frustration of communities suffering from the backlog in service delivery and said KZN needs to work together to strengthen weak and under-performing municipalities. Magewu said there would be a collaboration between Cogta, KZN municipalities and the Development Bank to lobby Water Affairs and deliver projects to the relevant communities on time.

“Service delivery protests are rife in SA, however as a province we have communicated effective and relevant infrastructures to deal with them,” said Magewu. According to the information presented, the root cause of service delivery protests in KZN are lack of housing, alleged corruption in local government, hikes in water, food and electricity prices and lack of water.

When it came to talk of Eskom and the problems they were having with delivering electricity, Magewu said Eskom had no answers to the problems they were facing.

“We are pretty much in trouble,” said Magewu.

Magewu stressed that better communication between local government and communities needed to be established as quickly as possible.

“A community which is well-informed of government planning of basic services will be less inclined to stage protests,” said Magewu.

Magewu said they would introduce community-based planning so information would be available at all levels.

A system called Siyaleader would also be introduced, whereby the community can connect and communicate with their municipality.

Cogta MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube said the time frames for the projects would be discussed in the second meeting today.

KZN Cogta spokesperson, Lennox Mabaso said chief financial officers (CFO’s) who do not meet the qualification requirements for their position will be axed by September 2015.

“This is a stern warning issued by Cogta MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube at the opening session of the Munimec meeting,” said Mabaso.

“Municipal CFOs must either prove that they have the necessary qualifications to do the job or go.

“We cannot afford to entrust big financial resources on officials who lack relevant competencies as this contributes to financial mismanagement and compromises service delivery.

“The buck must stop somewhere and when it comes to municipal finances it must stop with CFOs. It is our intention to ensure that those responsible for gross incompetence or a lack of commitment bear the consequences,” said Dube-Ncube.

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