Gordhan to focus on municipalites

CoGTA Minister, Pravin Gordhan

Ahead of his Budget Vote speech on Thursday 17 July 2014, Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Pravin Gordhan outlined the focus and plans of the ministry which will focus on leading municipalities back to basics and put in place institutional mechanisms to enable them to deliver the core municipal services.

CoGTA has a responsibility to build a system of local governance, within the perspective of the three spheres of government as set out in the Constitution. Minister said building such a system is a long term project; however, the ministry is also tasked with dealing with immediate operational difficulties within local government.

“It is in the municipal areas in which citizens work, live and socialise that this process of eradicating injustices, healing the divisions, improving the quality of life and where democracy social justice and human rights become concrete and meaningful in the lives of South Africans.”

The ultimate test of change is met: “when citizens attest that they have a decent living environment, they enjoy safety for themselves and their children; they can easily access education and health facilities; they are part of a vibrant economy creating jobs and promoting inclusiveness; they then leave poverty behind and are out of crass inequality”.

He said transformation in the lives of people must mean: functional municipalities, collaborative intergovernmental system, supportive fiscal system, the nurturing of traditional institutions and harmonising relations between municipalities and traditional institutions.

The minister emphasised that for municipalities to be effective, CoGTA will work and monitor them closely to institutionalise systems that will ensure that they:

  • Provide and deliver a basket of services to citizens;
  • Implement governance structures, with relevant committees, that meet and function properly and provide transparency and accountability;
  • Lead administration system staffed by competent individuals who are suitably qualified;
  • Put financial management systems with the necessary controls that are supported by cash-backed budgets - municipalities will also be monitored in cutting wasteful expenditure and ensure that procurement processes are properly implemented;
  • Implement post-audit action plans in order to clear out findings and matters that have been raised in their audits. They need to take decisive action to deal with instances of fraud and corruption.

“Our effort as a department will ensure that municipalities deliver a basket of basic municipal services without compromise by setting clear performance benchmarks and introducing legislative interventions where necessary”, said Minister Gordhan.

Meanwhile the minister will establish an Advisory Committee of Eminent Persons drawn from various sectors, including civil society to advise him on issues arising in the procurement system within local government, as well as on how to increase integrity and the value system in this sphere of the public sector.

The audits conducted by the Auditor-General have shown over a long time that municipalities’ financial management falls short of requirements. The Ministry of CoGTA will work closely with the National Treasury and the Auditor-General to improve their audits and ensure that performance improves.

Minister Gordhan said within six months CoGTA will put in place system to enable the ministry with day-to-day monitoring of the performance of every municipality – this will provide a high degree of transparency and accountability to citizens.

Dumisa Jele


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Issue 68