Kid gloves off for KZN councils

2009-10-23 00:00

“KID gloves” will be done away with and firmness will be used in whipping KwaZulu-Natal’s worst-performing municipalities into shape.

Political parties in the KZN Legislature yesterday debated the reports presented last week by the MECs for Finance and Local Government, Ina Cronje and Nomusa Dube, which indicated that most provincial municipalities are in crisis.

Political parties called for urgent interventions by both national and provincial governments to rescue municipalities that are in a state of crisis.

ANC MPL Belinda Scott said that non-performing municipalities should not be treated with kid gloves, but a firm stance needs to be adopted if ser­vice delivery is to prevail.

Scott criticised the huge salary packages paid to municipal managers and other section 57 employees at municipalities that are performing badly.

She cited uMngeni Municipality, where municipal manager Dumisani Vilakazi earns R1,3 million per year, while nine other managers in the council have a package of R1,1 million, saying that the municipality’s perfor­mance on service delivery leaves a lot to be desired.

Scott said the municipal manager of Msinga, which was rated as the worst municipality in the country by independent research group Empowerdex in a study released earlier this week, has a salary package of R750 000.

One of the reasons why most municipalities are in crisis, said ANC MPL Makhosi Khoza, is that the local government sphere has been neglected for a long time, adding that councillors are untrained and do not understand go­vernance and development, and therefore cannot perform their oversight role effectively.

Reviewing the guidelines on the role of councillors was suggested as one of the solutions.

At least in principle, said IFP MPL Roman Liptak, there is an easy solution to these challenges — the accounting officers in the municipalities that receive bad audits should be held accountable.

Cronje and Dube said government needs to use proactive measures to turn around some of the non-performing councils, and hand-holding them to meet their mandates is one of the solutions.

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