Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs says their recent oversight visits to several municipalities in Limpopo was a “cold reminder of the imperfect and messy journey” the committee finds itself in.
Committee chair Faith Muthambi said the multifaceted challenges faced ( by municipalities) can be summed up as being “driven by sheer non-compliance with the prescripts of the regulations and laws, and to some extent, with total impunity.”
“What stands between our current state of the arrested development and a prosperous South Africa that we want to build as it is espoused in the National Development Plan 2030, is the quality of public service to accomplish that objective.”
The other objective of the committee’s visit to Limpopo’s municipalities was to follow up on the issues that emerged during the committee’s recent joint meeting with the Standing Committee on Public Account (Scopa) on municipalities that received disclaimer/adverse audit opinions over the previous three financial years.
It is common knowledge, Muthambi said, that 32 percent of the money lost through failed investments in VBS Mutual Bank were from grants intended for infrastructure projects in the municipalities.
She said this indicates a serious deficit of the cultivation of good governance in some, if not most of these municipalities.
“With the glaring unemployment, this shameful act of unkindness towards the poorest of the poor should be arrested without delay if we are to work in unison for the common good of our citizens.”
Against the backdrop of the the recently released stats on unemployment which showed that the unemployment rate climbed to its highest level in 11 years, Muthambi, called on decision makers to step out of the “comfortable leadership spaces and take decisive actions that will salvage the municipalities from the siege of corruption.”
She said the committee is going to be “brutal” in its engagement with the affected municipalities where acts of corruption are found.
“The fact of the matter is, without consequence management, we will not be leading, we will be indirectly contributing to the prevailing problems and confirming the prophecies by the prophets of doom.”
Muthambi said the unacceptable conduct displayed by municipalities impedes negatively on government’s mandate.
She pointed out that affected municipalities lost their investments and have disclosed impairments totalling R1.6bn.
“Municipalities are under attack,” Muthambi said, and is a clear indicator that local entities are no longer governed according to the democratic values and principles enshrined in the Constitution, including the “efficient, economic and effective use of state resources.”