The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) welcomed Dr Zweli Mkhize’s plan to deploy teams of engineers and town planners in dysfunctional municipalities.
However, OUTA is concerned that the plans do not go to the core of the problems and will not be sustainable.
“The local communities, including ratepayers’ associations and local businesses, have been calling for this intervention for a very long time, but their cries fell on deaf ears.
“There is no doubt that communities are yearning for qualified engineers and town planners to address infrastructural issues relating to water, sewage, electrical sub-stations, maintenance workshops and similar matters.
“However, these are the symptoms of deeper systemic issues within local government and political meddling that have failed the communities in these dysfunctional municipalities,” Dr Makhosi Khoza, Executive Director at OUTA on local governance matters, said.
“We liken these actions to putting a plaster across a gaping wound,” Dr Khoza added, explaining that the collapse of these municipalities has been due to a number of issues.
• Lack of leadership and appointments that are not suitable to drive efficient and stringent administration of municipalities.
• Poor oversight and lack of transparency that discourage ratepayers, local businesses and other communities from being involved in the solutions. Most municipal managers and political leadership display an attitude of not caring about the complaints of the ratepayers, who are key to financial viability and sustainability of municipalities.
• No consequences for the officials who are found wanting or even caught red-handed in corrupt activities.
• No accountability by provincial and national CoGTA authorities, who by law have a crucial oversight responsibility.
OUTA is also concerned by Minister Mkhize’s comment that they have a blacklist of officials who were instrumental in the maladministration of municipalities.
“Having a list is one thing, but doing something about it, is another,” Dr Khoza also said.
OUTA called on the Minister to make that list public.
“We want to see who has been included to exercise an oversight function.
“We have examples, that Minister Mkhize is aware of, of the people responsible for municipal maladministration, being redeployed to new positions in provincial government departments and some now even hold executive positions in provincial government.
“Therefore, simply moving a problem to another area within government, is tantamount to recycling, feeding and multiplying failure.
“We have also seen MECs involved in fraudulent activities within provincial and local government, who are not charged with corruption or dereliction of duty, but remain employed.”
OUTA believes it is time for less talk and an end to a knee-jerk reaction to problems encountered at local municipality level and a move towards more meaningful engagement with ratepayers and other stakeholders, including civil society organisations such as OUTA.
“Active community intervention is urgently required,” Dr Khoza concluded.
OUTA media release