‘Municipalities must cut wasteful costs’ — Cogta

2018-05-18 06:00

ON May 3, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) announced a collection of austerity measures to help KwaZulu-Natal municipalities cut wasteful expenditure on non-core items.

Non-core items mentioned included mayoral vehicles and security as well as municipal consultants, events, catering, cellphone and credit cards.

Cogta MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube said that municipalities must direct funds towards service delivery to communities. She unveiled her department’s 2018/2019 budget last Thursday.

“Our own departmental austerity measures will now also apply to local government via a National Treasury circular which lists new cost-containment regulations that will be gazetted to become compulsory for all municipalities.

In the past, such measures were mere guidelines but now they are non-negotiable,” said Dube-Ncube.

The new regulations limit the use of consultants and the cost of personal security for municipal office bearers. The cost of official vehicles for municipal office bearers is restricted to
R700 000 or 70% of their annual package, flight tickets are limited to economy class, and the number of municipal representatives in international events is limited as is their travel and subsistence.

“We are also announcing a total ban on the use of municipal credit cards as well as severe restrictions on catering, entertainment and advertising by municipalities. We will be putting in place an oversight mechanism with proper management of consequences for non-compliance by municipal office bearers, councillors and officials,” Dube-Ncube said.

KZN Cogta also unveiled a mobile “app,” courtesy of Vodacom, that will enhance municipalities’ ability to respond to service delivery issues such as water leaks and potholes.

The “app” will offer functionality to the public, not only to log service delivery incidents, but also to follow up on the progress in their resolution by municipalities.

“The app works from any cellphone and allows the user to take images of a matter to be addressed.

“A logged incident is allocated a reference number which is sent via a text message and in app to the citizen.

“For citizens without smart phones, the solution offers a USSD string which offers similar functionality to the mobile app. The USSD can be customised to local languages,” Dube-Ncube said.

Cogta has also announced the rollout of Smart Exchange Innovation Hubs across the province and the hubs will promote SMMEs in the ICT sector and stimulate innovation that will create much needed jobs.

The department will be working closely with the board and CEO of the Smart Exchange to ensure that the benefits are felt all over KZN.

— Supplied.


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