DA governments to pull out of SALGA if political bias continues
22 February 2018
The DA has written to the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) expressing its deep concerns with the organisation’s possible political bias towards ANC governed municipalities. SALGA has a mandate to represent the interests of local governments, however, it faces allegations of political bias and possible wasteful expenditure.
The DA’s concerns centre around SALGA pushing a political agenda, aligned to the ANC, that its leadership consists predominantly of the individuals from the ruling party and allegations that opposition councillors are often excluded from SALGA training and initiatives.
The DA has now given SALGA until 30 April 2018 to address our concerns about their politically-skewed priorities. Should the organisation fail to meet our deadline, DA-led municipalities will not be paying membership fees for the 2018/2019 financial year and will subsequently withdraw their membership altogether.
DA-led municipalities account for approximately 20% of SALGA’s income stream and DA members constitute four seats on the SALGA NEC.
Some of the DA’s other concerns, apart from the allegations of the politicisation of SALGA, include:
- The seeming irregular and extensive international travel of SALGA NEC members and senior management for ‘international relations’ purposes;
- The personnel costs at the organisation amount to 55% of the organization’s total expenditure, with the administration costs of a further 7.5 %. In contrast, programme costs are at a lowly 20% of the total costs. (according to 16/17 annual report); and
- SALGA expects municipalities to carry the costs for priorities which are not within the mandate of the organisation.
It is evident that something is seriously wrong at SALGA - and it is for this reason that the DA is prepared to ensure that all DA-led municipalities pull out of SALGA should the organisation fail to fix these concerns as a matter of urgency.
It is unacceptable that SALGA should abuse its position to either include or exclude certain municipalities or political parties.
The DA will ensure that SALGA restores unbiased practices within the organization, to guarantee that every South African citizen has access to efficient local governments, irrespective of political affiliation.
Text of the letter to Salga:
08 February 2018
Cllr. Parks Tau
South African Local Government Association
Dear Cllr. Tau,
The Continued Involvement of DA-governed Municipalities in SALGA
Further to our discussion in Parliament yesterday, I hereby write to you on behalf of the Democratic Alliance.
As discussed, the DA has a number of concerns with SALGA, all of which will influence its decision as to whether or not to continue to support the organization. These are as follows:
1. Representation on SALGA national and provincial structures: It is of concern that the amended provisions of clause 8.2, read with clause 31.2, of the SALGA constitution adopted in 2016 have not been complied with. Specifically, the formula referred to in 8.2 has not been presented nor implemented as a transitional arrangement, which would result in changes to SALGA’s national and provincial structures.
2. SALGA priorities: We note with concern that municipalities are expected to carry the costs for priorities which are not within the mandate of SALGA. Specifically, we refer you to your apex priority of “Strategic Profiling” and your “Social Cohesion” activities, neither of which fall within the responsibilities designated to organized local government in terms of S163 of the Constitution of South Africa. In this regard, we believe that the very broad and open-ended objectives of the organisation, coupled with the difficulty of translating or interpreting them into concrete, measurable activities and beneficial outcomes, as reflected in its KPAs, are indicative of an organisation trying to be involved in too many fields and attempting to do something at least in each.
3. SALGA expenditure: While we acknowledge that SALGA has received clean audits for a number of years and commend the organization for this, we question whether the utilization of funds (largely generated by membership fees from municipalities) is optimal, and whether this is the best use of resources (refer to (2) above). We are further extremely concerned at the fact that personnel costs amount to 55.6% of the organization’s total expenditure, and administrative costs a further 7.5%. In contrast, programme costs are only 20.7% of total expenditure (based on the 2016/17 Annual Report).
Of particular concern is the remuneration of senior managers (including the CEO). This remuneration structure is not aligned to that of other public sector officials of similar description, responsibility and capacity. Additionally, it is noted that SALGA’s office space is amongst the most expensive and luxurious in Pretoria, and that a more reasonable location could have been sourced.
4. International relations: The extensive international travel of SALGA NEC members and senior management on behalf of the organization has been highlighted as an area of concern. In our discussion yesterday, you indicated that the purpose of this was three-fold:
a. To highlight and profile South African local government internationally;
b. To influence the global agenda; and
c. To share and learn best practices.
It is our contention that (a) and (b) are competencies of the national department of COGTA, and that (c) is something that should be undertaken by individual municipalities, at their own expense. It is worrying that the national leadership of SALGA is frequently out of the country at times when parliament is considering the organization’s annual report and APP, or when there are crises of local government.
5. Political bias: Allegations abound of political bias in the determination of who is included in SALGA training, and the politicisation of the SALGA mandate. I have communicated with you several examples of this, and can provide further information on request.
In light of the above, I have been mandated by the DA Federal Executive to communicate that, unless significant concessions are received from SALGA on or before 30 April 2018, DA-led municipalities will not be paying membership fees to SALGA for the 2018/19 financial year, and will withdraw from SALGA in its entirety. We note that municipal membership fees are due and payable on 1 April, and will withhold payment pending your response.
I look forward to a resolution of this matter at your earliest convenience.
Kevin Mileham MP
cc: James Selfe MP – Chairperson of the DA Federal Executive
Cllr. Karen Smith – Chairperson of the Association of Democratic Alliance Councillors
Issued by Kevin Mileham, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, 22 February 2018