‘Cash cows’ intercepted

2018-06-20 06:01

Collapsed Free State municipalities, characterised by violent service delivery protests, will be in the spotlight during an oversight visit by a delegation led by the minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Dr Zweli Mkhize.

The minister is set to undertake a visit to an equally crippled Mangaung Municipality on Friday (22/06).

Legadima Leso, spokes­person of the department, said the sole objective is to engage the provincial government and municipalities on intervention programmes to support distressed and dysfunctional municipalities.

The focus will be on nine municipalities in distress: Mafube, Masilonyana, Maluti-a-Phofung, Kopanong, Letsemeng, Mantsopa, Nketoana, Tokologo and Mohokare.

“The support to municipalities provided by Cogta has three focus areas: governance and administration, service delivery and infrastructure, and financial management.”

Leso said functional municipalities should, among other criteria, exhibit strong political and administrative leadership, have political stability, spend budgets as expected, have functional council and oversight structures, undertake regular reporting back to communities, and have low vacancy rates and a good rate of revenue collection.

“They should also deliver basic services such as the cutting of grass, refuse removal, provision of street lighting, water and sewerage systems,” he said.

The ruling ANC party admi­nisters all municipalities in the Free State. The inability of the municipal authorities has sparked a series of protests ranging from non-payment of the workers to non-delivery of basic services, including the failure to supply clean water.

Kaput systems of the ANC-led Maluti-a-Phofung Municipality saw Vusi Tshabalala sacked as the mayor in May, following violent protests.

Intervention programmes have been extended to the Mangaung Metro, which go­verns Bloemfontein, Botshabelo, Thaba Nchu, Soutpan, Wepener, Dewetsdorp and Van Stadensrus.

While focus will be on the nine municipalities, James Letuka, DA provincial member responsible for local government, said the situation was equally worrying in Dihlabeng, Matjhabeng, Nala, Kopanong, Mantsopa and Setsoto.

“There have been almost 20 violent service delivery protests in the Free State this year. We have seen a spike in the service delivery protests, so much that the province was identified as a hotspot of often violent service delivery protests,” said Letuka.

Kgotso Morapela, EFF Free State spokesperson, has also expressed concern.

“This pattern, which is akin to lawlessness, complete disregard and disrespect for the rule of law, can partly be blamed on civil society which has adopted a ‘I don’t care’ attitude and let things descend and spiral into chaos.

“Effectively, Free State municipalities have become undernourished cash cows of corrupt ANC leaders who milk them without regard to their sustenance and consequences on service delivery.”

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