06 March 2023
SAMWU welcomes the appointment of GOGTA Minister and Deputy Minister
The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) notes and welcomes the appointments of Thembi Nkadimeng and Parks Tau as Minister and Deputy Minister of the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) respectively. Nkadimeng and Tau are no strangers to the local government sector, with Nkadimeng having have served as the Mayor of Polokwane and later the Deputy Minister of COGTA. Tau has served as the Mayor of Johannesburg and previously served in the portfolio which he is now returning to.
We congratulate the Minister and Deputy Minister on their newly found responsibilities and hope that they will be hands-on in salvaging the country’s municipalities, of which most are in a state of paralysis while others have technically collapsed. We trust that the experience that the two have in the sector will be used to ensure that municipalities are resuscitated and enabled to deliver services to residents as per their constitutional mandate.
As a union, we are concerned by the number of municipalities, which according to previous COGTA and Auditor General reports, are dysfunctional and many more on the brink of dysfunctionality. Our view has always been that municipalities have largely been neglected by government and been left to fend for themselves hence the challenges which they face on a daily basis, challenges which have resulted in municipalities not being able to deliver quality services, if any.
It is for this reason that as SAMWU, we hope that the new Minister and the Deputy Minister will use the powers given to them by the Constitution to play a supervisory role and oversee the smooth running of municipalities. We have always argued that if Provincial Governments and COGTA played their role in municipalities, many of the challenges faced would have been detected and addressed speedily.
Of great concern to us is the fact that many municipalities have of late struggled to pay workers their salaries and wages on time or in full, while third parties such as pensions and medical aids are millions of Rand in arrears. We therefore urge both the Minister and Deputy Minister to work closely with Provincial Governments, the National Treasury and affected municipalities to ensure that no worker goes to bed hungry as a result of the failure by municipalities to pay workers their salaries.
The 2021 Local Government resulted in a lot of hung municipalities, necessitating coalition governments. History has however thought us that coalition governments are largely unstable, as we have seen in many municipalities. We therefore hope that COGTA will, in the near future be introducing a Bill in Parliament that seeks to regulate coalition governments in municipalities. We have seen that when there is political instability in Councils, workers and residents are the ones that suffer the most.
The greatest threat to municipal sustainability in the country has been finances. The country’s municipalities are largely underfunded, receiving less than 10% of government expenditure and expected to deliver services to the 60-plus million residents on a shoestring budget. We therefore hope that the prime focus of the Minister and the Deputy Minister will be initiating engagements with the National Treasury on how best the country’s municipalities can be supported financially. It has always been the view of the Union that the municipal funding model as it is, has not helped municipalities and in fact, has exacerbated the challenges faced by municipalities.
In addition to our call for the review of the municipal funding model, we would further like to see COGTA playing a huge role in assisting municipalities in putting in place revenue collection mechanisms that would supplement the grants and allocations received from government. We are of the view that if proper revenue collection mechanisms are put in place, the financial hardships faced by municipalities will be alleviated. Importantly, GOGTA should as a matter of urgency ensure, that all historical debt owed by government departments to municipalities are settled in full and that these departments pay their municipal accounts on time.
We also urge the new Minister and Deputy Minister to take advantage of the municipal debt relief that was recently announced by the Minister of Finance when delivering his budget speech. This relief will come in handy for many municipalities which are struggling to keep up with their Eskom debt. As workers, we are tired of continuous instances wherein Eskom attaches municipal bank accounts, resulting in workers not receiving their salaries, while on the other hand sabotaging the ability of municipalities to deliver services. We urge COGTA to ensure that Inter-Governmental Relations are strengthened, to avoid further attachments of municipal bank accounts.
The Union will therefore allow the new incumbents to settle into their new responsibilities but would be seeking an audience with the two, with the aim of exchanging ideas on how best the country’s municipalities can be salvaged. As a Union, we have a vested interest in seeing municipalities that work for residents and more importantly, municipalities that are responsive to the needs of both workers and residents.
We once more congratulate Minister Nkadimeng and Deputy Minister Tau, we look forward to working with them to restore the dignity of South Africans who rely on municipalities as they are in the coalface of service delivery. For South Africa to work, the country’s municipalities need to be functional.
Issued by SAMWU Secretariat
076 580 4029
National Media Officer
073 710 0356