Cogta minister Thembi Nkadimeng outlines intervention plans for dysfunctional metros

15 November 2023 - 16:54
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Co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Thembi Nkadimeng.
Co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Thembi Nkadimeng.
Image: Phiwe Phillips/GCIS

Co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Thembi Nkadimeng has read the riot act to dysfunctional municipalities, vowing to intervene to restore stability and service delivery.

Nkadimeng was speaking to the media after presenting an overview of government interventions to address governance problems at municipal level.

She said the state of local government report has been instrumental in identifying key issues ranging from governance failures to outstanding debt and vacancies in critical positions.

“These challenges, while formidable, have not deterred us from pursuing impactful interventions and reforms. We are not oblivious that challenges faced by the local government sector are multifaceted, disproportionate and impactful, not insurmountable, and we will illustrate the work we are doing to turn the situation around.”

The minister reflected on the 2021 review of the Municipal Structures Act, establishing the groundwork for delineating powers between the executive and legislative branches of municipal councils.

In addition, the review reinforced the code of conduct for councillors, the recognition of the vital role of the municipal public accounts' committees (MPAC) and the introduction of the council whip positions in all municipalities.

The 2022 review of the same act reintroduced the amendments made in 2011 under the municipal systems amendment act that had been nullified by the Constitutional Court in 2019.

Nkadimeng reported on the introduction of municipal staff regulations, an initiative which she said laid a robust foundation to professionalise local government by setting essential standards. Additionally, she announced ongoing efforts to finalise revised competence assessment batteries, further enhancing the professionalisation initiatives.

The minister highlighted the introduction of circular 88 wherein Cogta, in collaboration with the National Treasury, aimed to harmonise planning and reporting tools using specific municipal performance indicators.

“This circular aligns with the Municipal Systems Act [MSA] and the Municipal Finance Management Act [MFMA] requirements, ensuring coherence between planning and reporting instruments such as the integrated development plan [IDP], the service delivery and budget implementation plan [SDBIP], and the annual report.

The aim is to solidify good practices, address any regulatory 'vacuums' and eradicate or mitigate detrimental practices
Thembi Nkadimeng, co-operative governance & traditional affairs minister

Nkadimeng said the current pilot of circular 88 encompasses all eight metropolitan municipalities, with plans for broader implementation across all municipalities.

“Cogta has also set up the results management office [RMO] to house experts in various fields [DDM, CWP, infrastructure, finance, energy and governance] to provide an additional layer of support, particularly in dysfunctional municipalities. The strengthening of the municipal infrastructure support agent [Misa] has been ongoing.”

Misa has been designated by the minister to champion the development of infrastructure asset management plans, the deployment of more experts, trainee artisans as well as supporting the implementation of the CWP programme (particularly the municipal services aspects).

“These reforms reflect a concerted effort to address the challenges and intricacies faced by local governance structures. They represent a commitment to enhance the capacity, professionalism and effectiveness of municipalities in delivering services.

“As we continue this journey, we remain dedicated to adapting and refining these measures to ensure the ongoing improvement and efficiency of our municipalities. Added to this, we are paving the way for significant interventions set to enhance the functioning and governance of municipalities.”

These interventions include the Intergovernmental Monitoring, Support and Interventions (IMSI) Bill, designed in alignment with constitutional sections 100(3) and 139(8), which aims to provide targeted support to provinces and municipalities requiring assistance.

The bill is said to set the stage for monitoring provinces and municipalities, ensuring their compliance with executive obligations as dictated by the constitution or legislation. Additionally, it aims to outline alternative steps for interventions to induce compliance, and it grants the power to the national or provincial executive to appoint administrators in cases of intervention.

Regarding the highly anticipated coalitions bill, Nkadimeng said proposed amendments to the Municipal Structures Act are under way.

“These changes propose that municipal office-bearers can only be removed from office after a two-year tenure or under prescribed grounds. We are engaging in consultations with stakeholders. Another significant inclusion in this bill is the provision for binding coalition agreements in municipalities where no single party holds a majority of seats.”

The minister also reported on the General Laws Amendment Bill, intended to introduce amendments to multiple pieces of legislation affecting local governance.

“The aim is to solidify good practices, address any regulatory ‘vacuums’ and eradicate or mitigate detrimental practices. This comprehensive amendment seeks to streamline and fortify the legal framework governing municipalities, promoting more effective and transparent governance.”

Nkadimeng said her government's proactive stance in proposing these bills underscores dedication to fortifying the structure and functionality of local governance.

“These interventions are designed to address various critical aspects, ensuring compliance, effective administration and stronger collaborations within municipalities.”


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