Municipalities need to go back to basics - Limpopo premier

2017-06-21 16:26
Limpopo Premier Stanley Mathabatha. (Kenny Mathiva, Netwerk24)

Limpopo Premier Stanley Mathabatha. (Kenny Mathiva, Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg - Limpopo Premier Stanley Mathabatha on Wednesday said municipalities needed to go back to basics, which includes holding unethical leaders accountable.

"Once municipalities become unaccountable, there will definitely be a distance between the people and the institutions of government," Mathabatha said.

Mathabatha was delivering an address on Building a capable state - How to ensure local government accountability at all levels, at the opening of the Vision 2030 Summit at the Birchwood Hotel in Johannesburg.

Mathabatha said it was a lack of good governance that almost collapsed the Limpopo province back in 2011.

The province had accumulated over R2bn in unauthorised expenditure, he said.

"Hospitals were without medication and food, schools were without books and public servants were facing a real possibility of not getting their salaries. The truth of the matter is that that situation had the birthmarks of poor governance and unethical tendencies."

Consequence management

National government had to intervene and apply consequence management.

"The entire executive was dissolved, several HODs and senior members of the administration had to be suspended; the director general was subsequently relieved of her duties…"

Today the province is on course, he said.

He said accountability was even more crucial at local municipal level because local government was at the coal face of service delivery.

Mathabatha said in some instances, municipalities claimed to be building communities roads, while the people in those areas were without drinking water.

"Local councillors who are supposed to be with the people on the ground more often disappear from their communities as soon as they are elected."

He said aloof councillors maximised the distance between the leaders and the people.

"This is a fertile seed for disgruntlement, disillusion and anarchy."

Mathabatha said it was important for leaders to meet with communities from time to time.

"Communities must be made to own up to developmental plans of the municipality, understand budgetary constraints and be abreast to project delivery timelines."

Qualified personnel

He said municipalities must deal with challenges including poor accountability and relationships with communities, fraud and corruption, lack of proper planning and poor project management and at times, lack of suitable and qualified personnel.

"One of the issues that made Limpopo collapse in 2011 was that they employed people in positions where they were not suitably qualified."

He said municipalities needed to go back to basics and that required filling vacancies in strategic positions with qualified personnel, improve expenditure and maintenance capital, promoting good governance and ethical leadership, putting people and their concerns first and improving the face of government.

Mathabatha said municipalities should also improve their audit outcomes.

"The one thing that we should never tolerate is a disclaimer… This is because nothing undermines our people like a disclaimer."

He said serious consequences should be taken against senior officials in municipalities where the auditor general has issued a disclaimer outcome.

"For me, a disclaimer simply means refusing to account and this can never be accepted. We need to let accountability be the epicentre of every levels of government," he said.

Read more on:    stanley mathabatha  |  polokwane  |  service delivery

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