Councils to vet officials

2018-06-11 17:08
Roshan Morar (left), founding MD of Pietermaritzburg-based accounting firm Morar Incorporated, with Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene, who spoke at an event hosted by the firm in the city on Saturday. Nene said the unexpectedly low economic growth rate data released last week for the first quarter of -2,2% had been a “wake-up” call for government to start working on structural economic reforms, and he expected that financial and economic agencies, local and international, would have to revise downwards their economic forecasts for South Africa for this year, following the poor quarter figure for the first quarter.

Roshan Morar (left), founding MD of Pietermaritzburg-based accounting firm Morar Incorporated, with Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene, who spoke at an event hosted by the firm in the city on Saturday. Nene said the unexpectedly low economic growth rate data released last week for the first quarter of -2,2% had been a “wake-up” call for government to start working on structural economic reforms, and he expected that financial and economic agencies, local and international, would have to revise downwards their economic forecasts for South Africa for this year, following the poor quarter figure for the first quarter. (Edward West)

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The national Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Department has compiled a database of qualifications and the performances of senior municipal officials which will be used to vet senior municipal appointments in future.

This was according to Cogta Minister Zweli Mkhize, who spoke at an event hosted by Pietermaritzburg-based national accounting firm Morar Incorporated, on Saturday.

It has become a trend in many provinces, including KwaZulu-Natal, for senior municipal officials to quit their jobs to escape investigations of fraud, but they invariably end up getting re-appointed in other municipalities, where there is no record of their alleged previous misdemeanours.

The database will initially focus on municipal managers and chief financial officers, but will be expanded to other senior department heads over time, he said.

Mkhize also outlined the latest initiative by Cogta to improve service delivery and infrastructure in local government. Only 55 out of 257 municipalities employ an engineer, he said.

He said Cogta had begun deploying 42 town planners and engineers into local government district municipalities last month.

One of the benefits was that they were deployed from national government, which would free them from local political influences, he said.

“By ... December we want to ensure there is not a single district that doesn’t have this competence and capacity.”

Mkhize said municipalities only have two functions — to satisfy people in terms of service delivery, and to create an environment that is good for businesses to invest. This will help municipalities earn more revenue for service delivery, so that economic development and job creation takes place.

Business accounts for 80% of national employment and two-thirds of annual investment.

He said many municipalities were being by-passed when it came to economic benefits from national government’s Strategic Infrastructure Programme and from new investments in Special Economic Zones.

In addition, municipalities had lost or were losing their sources of revenue.

“Where will the revenue come from, where will the jobs come from,” he asked?

To this end Cogta, the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Small Business Development and others were “already” meeting regularly to focus on local economic development initiatives that might bring investment to municipalities, he said.

Both Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene and Mkhize stressed that better partnership with the private sector is required.

In response to a question from the audience that many businesses had “disengaged” from government in recent years, Nhlanhla admitted that “we have lost it [trust] over time,” and that it would take time to regain that trust.

Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business CEO Melanie Veness said the chamber, which represents businesses big and small in the city, viewed its scheduled monthly meetings with the municipality as “critically important” and said she wished the municipality would stop postponing every meeting.

Veness said business was keen to be part of the solution to economic development in Pietermaritzburg.

She cited as an example Singapore, where a large model of the city has been erected which indicates, in different colours, how the city will develop in five and 10 years into the future.

“In this way everybody knows what development is coming to the city and can play their part,” she said,

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  cogta

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