2007-12-12 00:00

ON Monday, Local Government MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu announced that the KZN cabinet had resolved to intervene in the functioning of certain dysfunctional municipalities in the province, including the ANC-led Impendle and Kokstad, the Newcastle local municipality and the Umzinyathi and Amajuba district municipalities. Despite its many questionable actions the uMgungundlovu District Municipality has so far evaded being listed among these, but it is being investigated.

Good news. For too long these municipalities have failed dismally to represent and serve the people in their areas. They have variously misspent, mismanaged and misappropriated funds, have had administration and staff problems — some arising from the appointment of unsuitable and unqualified individuals — and have demonstrated ignorance and incompetence at the same time as they have experienced serious breaches of discipline.

Cabinet’s intervention will involve investigation of their affairs by a multi-disciplinary task team of specialists, who will then “regulate” their human resources and management systems. One hopes that this “regulation” will include radical staff shake-ups and a complete revision of work styles and ethics, but even if this is so, history suggests that municipalities with records of this kind will require continued close monitoring if they are not to revert to type once the task team has completed its work and left. Is there provision in cabinet’s plan for such further follow-up? If not, it could be that the “regulation” becomes an expensive exercise in futility.

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