The problem with municipalities: too many mistakes, says Pravin Gordhan

2014-03-07 16:51

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan expressed concern about the performance of Eastern Cape metros Nelson Mandela Bay in Port Elizabeth and Buffalo City in East London, which he said were the worst performing of all cities in the country.

Gordhan said while the Nelson Mandela Bay metro was doing well in terms of its housing delivery programmes, the same could not be said of economic growth and creating jobs.

“Their housing delivery is something that others could emulate, but on the other hand the economic investment in that area is not as good as it could be. Yes, municipalities are faced with a lot of challenges but the problem is that they also make too many mistakes,” Gordhan said.

“There are mistakes with appointing the wrong people with the wrong skills, not making sure you attract the right professionals and not ensuring that we build the right capacity in terms of planning, housing delivery and special planning in some other critical areas.”

Other weakness are in the implementation of projects, Gordhan said.

“I think in the past few years, the highest amounts that are not spent in a fiscal year come from the municipal sphere of government.

There is a lot of work that needs to be done to support the municipalities,” he said.

Gordhan said the Eastern Cape needed to understand the importance of cities in the urbanisation process, and the role they play in supporting their economic activity.

Referring to recent problems facing the Nelson Mandela metro, the finance minister said there was a lot of work being done at a political level to turn the situation around.

“As you know, me and the minister of cooperative governance were there recently. Hopefully, before the elections we will go back again to see what progress they are making. We know there has been some progress in appointing some key officials but more needs to be done to get the municipality on the right track,” he said.

Last year, city manager Dr Lindiwe Msengana-Ndlela resigned in haste from her post at the metro following reports of political interference by mayor Benson Fihla, which drove the metro into further crisis.

This was just months after the two had been appointed to turn the situation around.

Gordhan called for corruption to be fought “with everything we have”.

He said the ruling party’s proposal to centralise procurement was an attempt to minimise corruption.

“Corruption is a societal problem as opposed to being a government issue. Whether it appears on an entity level, national government, provincial or municipal level, corruption is unacceptable and we must do whatever we can to actually stop it,” he said.

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