The skilled help is welcome but there’s no quick fix for dysfunctional municipalities, says OUTA’s Dr Makhosi Khoza.
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) welcomes Dr Zweli Mkhize’s plan to deploy teams of engineers and town planners in dysfunctional municipalities. However, we are concerned that the plans do not go to the core of the problems so will not be sustainable.
“The local communities, including ratepayers’ associations and local businesses, have been calling for this intervention for a very long time, but their cries fell on deaf ears. There is no doubt that communities are yearning for qualified engineers and town planners to address infrastructural issues relating to water, sewage, electrical sub-stations, maintenance workshops and similar matters. However, these are the symptoms of deeper systemic issues within local government and political meddling that have failed the communities in these dysfunctional municipalities,” says Dr Makhosi Khoza, Executive Director at OUTA on Local Governance matters.
“We liken these actions to putting a plaster across a gaping wound,” adds Khoza, explaining that the collapse of these municipalities has been due to a number of issues.
- Lack of leadership and appointments that are not suitable to drive efficient and stringent administration of municipalities.
- Poor oversight and lack of transparency that discourages ratepayers, local businesses and other communities from being involved in the solutions. In fact, most municipal managers and political leadership display an attitude of not caring about the complaints of the ratepayers, who are key to financial viability and sustainability of municipalities.
- No consequences for the officials who are found wanting or even caught red-handed in corrupt activities.
- No accountability by provincial and national CoGTA authorities, who by law have a crucial oversight responsibility.
OUTA is also extremely concerned by Minister Mkhize’s comment that they have a blacklist of officials who were instrumental in the maladministration of municipalities.
“The reality is that having a list is one thing, but doing something about it is another,” says Khoza.
OUTA calls on the Minister to make that list public. We want to see who has been included so that as civil society we might exercise our oversight function.
“We have examples of Minister Mkhize’s knowledge of these very same people responsible for municipal maladministration, yet he himself has been part of the redeployment of these failed officials to new positions in provincial government departments and some now even hold executive positions in provincial government. Therefore, simply moving a problem to another area within government is tantamount to recycling, feeding and multiplying failure,” says Khoza.
“We have also seen MECs involved in fraudulent activities within provincial and local government, yet not only are they not charged with corruption or dereliction of duty but they remain employed.”
OUTA believes it is time for less talk and an end to knee-jerk reaction to the problems encountered at local municipality level and a move towards more meaningful engagement with ratepayers and other stakeholders, including civil society organisations such as OUTA.
“Active community intervention is urgently required,” says Khoza.
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