20 March 2018
SAMWU Welcomes COGTA Municipal Intervention Plans
The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) notes plans presented by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Minister Zweli Mkhize with regard to the country’s municipalities. The Minister has presented a report which paints a bleak future for the country’s municipalities, this is however something that has always been in the public domain but the extent thereof was unknown until now.
According to COGTA only 7% of the country’s municipalities are well functioning, 31% are reasonably functioning while another 31% are almost dysfunctional and 31% are classified as dysfunctional essentially meaning that these municipalities have collapsed. We are disappointed that the Minister did not take this opportunity to name and shame these municipalities, we believe that municipal workers and South Africans deserve to know if their municipalities are on a brink of collapse or have totally collapsed.
We welcome the department’s plans to immediately intervene in municipalities which have been identified as dysfunctional as well as those which are on the brink of dysfunctionality. Workers have experienced first hand the dysfunctionalities of municipalities, some municipalities had crookedly deducted money from workers but never paid it over to third parties such as pension funds, medical aids and funeral schemes. Some workers have had to resort to loan sharks as a result of municipalities failing to pay their salaries on time. We therefore urge the Minister to make these municipalities his priority as the failure to pay third parties and salaries on time has resulted in low moral among workers which ultimately compromises the quality of service delivery rendered.
We are particularly pleased by plans by the department to assist municipalities which in the previous years had to return the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) back to National Treasury due to none expenditure, money which was ultimately redirected to other municipalities. We fully agree with COGTA that the practice of non expenditure and redirection of funds does not assist the affected municipalities but rather puts further strain on them and community members as the much needed infrastructure will not be built.
SAMWU is however disappointed that the Minister did not voice our displeasure at the decision by National Treasury to reduce MIG by R28 billion as presented earlier this year during the Budget Speech. The MIG is needed by municipalities to fund infrastructure projects in the interest of communities, as such we believe the Minister should have lamented the allocation reduction.
The decision to deploy Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (MISA) District Support Teams to assist dysfunctional municipalities and those on the brink with infrastructure planning, delivery, operation and maintenance as well as infrastructure management, financial management will go a long way in addressing these challenges and hopefully bring municipalities back to their former glory.
We therefore welcomes these intervention plans by the department albeit them being a little too late as municipalities have long been neglected, forgetting the critical services which they provide to South Africans. For South Africa to work for all, municipalities have to be strengthened as they are in the coal face of service delivery.
We further believe that in the intervention plans, the department should also focus on corruption, maladministration and lack of political will by municipal political office bearers as these have contributed immensely to the situation which the country’s municipalities find themselves in. These intervention plans should also include ways in which municipalities can be financially stabilized through putting in place proper revenue collection mechanisms and a fairer equitable share from National Treasury.
Issued by SAMWU Secretariat
(079 887 8389)
Deputy General Secretary
(082 899 2169)
National Media Officer
(073 710 0356)