Municipalities need better leadership: Salga

By Drum Digital
07 August 2013

Municipalities need strong political leadership to overcome a myriad of problems, the SA Local Government Association (Salga) said on Wednesday.

Salga chairman Thabo Manyoni was commenting on the outcomes of the National Council of Provinces local government week.

Municipalities were operating in a space where finances were tight because of the global economic crisis, and where urbanisation was happening at a rapid pace.

"People get more into debt.... The majority of people who are coming into cities, they don't have skills," said Manyoni.

"Those who are earning less than R3000, for instance, are people who are spending more on food and transport rather than on shelter, and also on bettering the general conditions of their lives."

This meant people could not sustain themselves, and it resulted in municipalities themselves battling to remain sustainable because they were not receiving the funds they expected through rates and taxes.

The problem of limited resources was twofold.

"The challenge of resources in terms of human and also capital... human in the sense of having skills and having citizenry who are skilled to sustain themselves, [but] also municipalities having the necessary skills to address challenges by stimulating the economy and maintaining infrastructure," Manyoni said.

Salga said an active citizenry, combined with good leadership, was key to making municipalities operate more successfully.

"People should also get involved in trying to better their lives instead of always having a citzenry that will always be passive, always expecting delivery.... It's an issue of culture."

The political leadership at municipal level needed urgent improvement.

"I'm referring to political leadership who are interested in the areas in which they are meant to be operating, that is encouraging, that is meeting people instead of outsourcing those political functions and making sure we build communities that are understanding and able to take charge of their lives," Manyoni said.

He said the lines of communication between municipalities and citizens were not open, which was one of the main causes of spiralling service delivery protests.

"Local government does not communicate adequately. We don't talk to each other, we talk across each other," he said.

"Those citizens... they must be able to understand what are the limitations what are the challenges [facing local government] and I think that will assist in minimising protests."

-Sapa

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