Municipalities must justify their existence
East London - Local governments in the Eastern Cape need to take stock of the poor state of affairs and justify their existence, Local Government MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane said on Monday.
"I have been informed that currently our province is rated number eight in the country on how it delivers services to its inhabitants," he said in a speech prepared for delivery at a local government indaba in East London.
"This poor state of affairs is due to huge backlogs on water, electricity, refuse removal, etc," said Qoboshiyane.
"We must emerge from this indaba with concrete strategic plans that are implementable, achievable and measurable to turn this ugly picture around."
He said the unpredictability of recent service delivery protests that appeared in one place and then re-appeared in another throughout the country, called for political vigilance to identify organisational strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
A culture of ethical conduct by both political office bearers and municipal officials on issues around supply chains was urgent.
In some municipalities, officials and politicians collude to siphon money from municipal coffers for personal benefit, rendering municipalities dysfunctional.
"This is what I call organised chaos by our own people to achieve narrow selfish interests. At the end of the day our people suffer and out of frustration ventilate their anger through violent service delivery protests.
"Our capacity to provide solid leadership in the midst of such protests leaves a lot to be desired, in some instances."
He said the bar should be raised in municipal service delivery.
There should always be compliance on how public resources are used to guard against irregular, unauthorised or wasteful expenditure.
Prudent management of financial resources will enable municipalities to meet their financial obligations including paying for Eskom's electricity bills on time and without interest.
"Our department is not going to provide financial bailouts forever. There will have to be a cut-off point and such municipalities will have to fend for themselves."
The government would take some hard decisions on these municipalities.
Qoboshiyane called for an urgent plan by Eskom and district municipalities to deal with issues of non payment of electricity bills.
The department, in the meantime was sending teams support, strengthening internal systems and building capacity at municipalities.
Qoboshiyane commended municipalities who were "slowly turning the corner".