Salga to assist municipalities

2018-10-10 06:04
The roadshow of the South African Local Government Association (Salga) in Upington on Thursday (04/10). Photo: Supplied

The roadshow of the South African Local Government Association (Salga) in Upington on Thursday (04/10). Photo: Supplied

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Pressure from trade creditors continues to drive municipalities towards entering into debt repayment agreements and to sign contracts that are not necessarily in their best interest.

Those were observations by the South African Local Government Association (Salga) roadshow in Upington on Thursday (04/10).

The provincial executive committee of Salga and the provincial management team engaged municipalities from the Namakwa and ZF Mgcawu Districts, as well as the Gamagara Local Municipality.

Provincial chairperson of Salga, Sophia Mosikatsi, called on municipalities to stop signing contracts with Eskom without consulting Salga for advice.

The acting provincial executive officer of Salga, Johannes Ruiters, made a call for municipalities to obtain advice and engagements on such issues.

The Salga engagement was aimed at probing on the challenges of municipalities in order to find intervention measures that will enhance equitable and sustainable delivery of basic services to communities.

A request was made to Salga to continue to participate in all their engagements with state creditors.

It was revealed that churches, government departments and even trusts owe municipalities exorbitant amounts of money in respect of services provided.

This put municipalities in a bad state of financial affairs, to a point where they end up accumulate unmanageable debt and this subsequently affects service delivery to deserving communities, spiralling into community protests.

Further requests to Salga were made by municipalities to assist them on lower electricity tariffs for municipa­lities, comparing to what is charged by Eskom.

The entire equitable share of some municipalities is reported to be utilised to service Eskom debt.

Concern was also raised that the National Energy Regulator (Nersa) has curbed the tariff increase rate of municipalities at 7%, yet this limit does not apply to Eskom.

This is seen as a threat of widening the gap between the costs at which municipalities buy and supply electricity.

Illegal mining is a real social challenge in the Namakwa District.

Municipalities do not receive sufficient funds for disaster management, making it unable to carry out this function.

Vacant key positions in municipalities are reported to being a challenge, with some local municipalities shifting their responsibility to district municipalities.

Salga’s national executive committee resolved to approach the court of law to resolve the grievances of municipalities against Eskom.

Municipalities are further urged to make use of the free competency test offered by Salga which has proven to be cost effective and efficient.

Performance management training is offered by Salga and municipalities to help them improve performance management.

Municipalities acknowledged and expressed appreciation for the unwavering support they have received over previous years which they are continuing to enjoy currently and still yearn for.

“Our successes are owed to Salga and a big thank you to Salga staff and its leadership for that,” said the municipal manager of Khai-Ma Local Municipality, Obakeng Isaacs.

“It is through the intervention of Salga and its stakeholders that electricity was not cut-off in Kai !Garib,” the director for planning and development at the Kai !Garib Local Municipality, Johnny MacKay, said.

“It is of great importance that we involve Salga in these matters and I urge all municipalities to go that route.”

A concern is further raised, that municipalities tend to over-emphasise their debt to other state entities while neglecting their membership levies to Salga and lack to assess and prioritise debt fairly.

The session saw municipalities requests Salga to offer more training opportunities to councillors.

This is also to ensure that the debate on the competency test administered and the Department of Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (Coghsta) is settled.

The municipalities are currently forced to appoint service providers to administer these tests and it is costly to them.

A further plea was made to Salga to lobby the Department of Health to assist the municipality’s environmental health practitioners to confiscate fake foods in the Namakwa District.

Mosikatsi emphasised the need for municipalities to submit reports and financial statements, as required, in time and compliance officers should ensure that municipalities comply with the requirements of sector departments and state entities such as Coghsta and the auditor-ge­neral.

She advised municipalities to decrease the use of consultants and instead turn to Salga for assistance whenever it is needed.

They are also urged to do the honourable thing of paying their membership levies.

Municipalities were given until 1 May 2019 to fill all critical posts.

Mosikatsi, whose sentiments were reiterated by Ruiters, firmly expressed Salga’s commitment towards continuously assisting municipalities in various areas of their operations.

This is to ensure that member municipalities in the Northern Cape provide services to their constituencies in an equitable and sustainable manner.

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