Improvement of municipalities welcomed - Zweli Mkhize

Minister says Emadlangeni and NDZ local municipalities have been released from Section 139 interventions

Minister Zweli Mkhize pleased with Emadlangeni and Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma local municipalities

20 March 2019

COGTA Minister hails improvements in two municipalities that that have been released from Section 139 interventions

The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) today approved the termination of the Section 139 (1)(b) Interventions issued to Emadlangeni and Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma local municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal, due to progress made by the two municipalities in implementing recovery plans.

The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Zweli Mkhize, has hailed the two municipalities for the improvements made in governance and administration as well as financial management leading them to being moved out of being under administration.

The Select Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) in the NCOP tabled the recommendation for the termination.

Emadlangeni LM was placed under section 139(1)(b) of the Constitution on January 18, 2017 following widespread instability after the 2016 Local Government Elections. The instability which also affected its financial status persisted even when the province intervened. This led the Provincial Executive Council to intervene. Under administration, the fortunes of the municipality have changed and as a result, all six ward committees are functional and the municipality has not experienced any service delivery protests.

Other highlights which have stood the municipality in good stead include:

- The unlocking of funding from Social Labour Plans from coal mining operations by the administrator;

- The Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) funding has been well spent by 95% by June 2018. The 2018/2019 is on track and the municipality is aiming to qualify for additional funds and the municipality has spent 60% of their funds transferred;

- The municipality is dealing with housing projects that have been on the pipelines in the municipality for the benefit of the municipal communities;

- Oversight municipal structures are functional;

- The Municipal Council, Municipal Public Accounts Committees and the Executive Committee have received capacity building programmes to improve their functionality;

- The Audit Committee has been reconstituted.

There is stable financial environment with current asserts of R37 323 148 against liabilities of R17 639 351 showing a healthy financial balance; the LM does not have an overdraft nor long term debts, and debt-collection rate standing at 80%.

Under administration, the municipality had filled all senior manager posts and councillors and oversight committees have been trained.

In terms of consequence management, the Council suspended the Director Technical Services earlier this year and he is due to face the disciplinary tribunal later this month (March). An investigation was conducted following allegations of serious misconduct relating to the authorisation of payments for work that had not been done and the recommendations are now out.

The Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma Local Municipality is a successor-in-law to KwaSani and Ingwe local municipalities which were disestablished during the re-demarcation process in 2016. Ingwe Local Municipality had serious institutional governance issues, which spilled into the newly created Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma Local Municipality.

The main issue was the inability of the new Council to appoint a Municipal Manager and also fill three senior manager posts of Community Services, Development and Town Planning as well as Public Works and Basic Services.

This led the Provincial Executive Council on 18 March 2018 invoking section 139(1)(b) of the Constitution.      

Under administration, the municipality experienced improved governance including:

- Ward committees were established in all 15 wards and 14 were assessed to be functional;

- No service delivery protests have been recorded;

- Traditional Leaders are participating in the Municipal Council in terms of Section 81 of the Municipal Structures Act.

- In terms of delivering basic services, 4751 households receive Free Basic Electricity while 4456 households have access to Municipal refuse removal services. Electricity coverage is currently sitting at 98% which is 2% from reaching the universal access. The main challenge at this stage is those communities residing on the private farmlands. Negotiations with farm owners are ongoing, the last meeting was held towards the end of last year. The municipality may soon commence installing electricity for the benefit of farm dwellers.

The Municipality had budgeted R 102 694 754, 00 towards the capital expenditure of which 95% was spent by year-end mainly on roads, electricity and community facilities (halls and crèches).

In the second quarter of 2018/2019 FY (Sep-Dec) the Council and its Committees were assessed and found to be functional by KZN CoGTA. This means that Council established a Rules Committee to process issues relating to breaches of the Code of Conduct for councillors including the Standing Rules and Orders and the Audit Committee is holding its meetings regularly as required.

Traditional leaders were identified by the COGTA MEC to sit in Council in terms of Section 81 of the Municipal Structures Act .

In terms of sound financial management, the municipality received an unqualified audit opinion for the 2017/18 financial year, revenue collection was at 76% as at end of quarter four; management developed fiscal austerity measures to control and regulate expenditure and the consequently, the municipality is solvent and financially viable.

A Municipal Manager was appointed last year June and the three other senior managers; all management policies are in place and the disaster management advisory forum is functional amongst other things.

This shows that intervention does work. We applaud these two municipalities and we believe that they are well on their way to meaningful recovery. We applaud the cooperation and hard work that has led to the progress scored, and we wish all other municipalities well as they implement recovery plans drafted with the assistance of COGTA and the National Treasury nationally and provincially,” said Minister Mkhize.

Issued by Musa Zondi on behalf of Department of Cooperative Governance, 20 March 2019