KZN’s worst-performing municipalities could merge with districts that deliver

2009-10-22 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL’s worst performing municipalities in the rural areas face the prospect of being merged with local or district councils that are meeting government’s mandate on service delivery.

The Witness has learnt that the announcement on amalgamation is expected to be made soon.

This comes against the backdrop of a study released by independent research group Empowerdex on Tuesday on the assessment of the country’s 283 municipalities.

The study ranked Msinga (Tugela Ferry) Municipality the worst in the country because it delivers basic services to only 18,6% of its households.

The council in President Jacob Zuma’s birthplace, Nkandla Municipality, is the best performer in new water connections in the province, with 64% of homes now with access to potable water.

In housing, Impendle Municipality performed the worst in the province, while Ingwe Municipality fell to within the bottom three in the country and Msinga at the bottom.

Umdoni, Ndwedwe and Mandeni municipalities are among the worst performing in providing sanitation, with fewer than three percent of residents able to access the service.

KwaZulu-Natal was ranked seventh out of the nine provinces with regard to the improvement of service provision.

Nama Khoi Municipality in the Northern Cape was ranked the best performing, with 94% of its residents accessing basic services.

Opposition parties in Msinga said the municipality’s poor performance is attributable to the “family-style” way the Inkatha Freedom Party runs the council.

Democratic Alliance councillor Sibusiso Vilakazi said there is nepotism in filling management posts, with the finance section crowded with inexperienced staff.

Vilakazi’s claims were echoed by ANC councillor Khetheyakhe Ngubane, who said intervention by the provincial government is long overdue. Attempts to get comment from the Msinga mayor and municipal manager were unsuccessful.

Nkandla Mayor Oscar Zulu said the council’s improvement in water supply is not because the country’s president is from that area, but as a result of co-ordinated leadership between the council and amakhosi.

Sources at the KZN Local Government and Traditional Affairs Department told The Witness yesterday that a task team including the departmental senior manager has collected data on the state of municipalities reported to be performing below average.

Factors that will be looked at include economic viability of the local councils, access to the councils by residents, including whether the majority of residents travel long distances when going to the municipal offices, said sources.

They said that pro s and cons will be strictly weighed for the mergers to be successful.

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