The resolutions taken at the recent MUNIMEC meeting where COGTA was represented, are most welcome. Such resolutions show that there is an awareness of the challenges that are being faced at municipalities across our province. If these challenges remain then the cancer of fraud, corruption and maladministration will eat away at good governance and result in even more service delivery protests in KZN.
While the Inkatha Freedom Party welcomes the resolutions, I must hasten to state that having unqualified CFOs, incompetent municipal managers, lazy managers and inexperienced cadres in charge of municipalities will only serve to disadvantage our people and see municipal resources being wasted or stolen.
It is indeed a step in the right direction to call for all CFOs to submit proof of their formal qualifications by September or to vacate their positions. But why stop at CFOs? Why not call for all those who occupy senior positions such as municipal managers, directors, managers and supervisors to all submit proof of their formal qualifications? If COGTA is serious about cleaning up public administration at municipal level, then it must use a big broom and sweep clean once and for all. COGTA should not tinker on the fringes of the problem and act as though it is cleaning the rot that exists at most of our municipalities.
Madame Speaker, I want to challenge the Hon Simelane who is the proposer of this motion to tell this House how many CFOs have submitted proof of their formal qualifications by the end of September, how many have not submitted and how many have vacated their positions for not having submitted proof of their formal qualifications. This information is very important as it will speak to just how serious COGTA takes the resolutions from the recent MUNIMEC meeting.
If Hon Simelane does not have this information then she is wasting the time of this House by bringing such a motion for debate. There is no point in us debating here in this House when COGTA is not serious about implementing resolutions. COGTA must demonstrate to us all that it is serious about cleaning up municipal administrations and ensuring that competent and well-qualified people occupy senior positions in our municipalities.
Madame Speaker, with regard to conditional grants, the Inkatha Freedom Party is of the view that we should not call for the acceleration in spending because this will only serve to encourage fiscal dumping and wasteful expenditure. We should rather be calling for responsible utilisation of conditional grants for their intended purposes. Very often we have seen conditional grants being used for purposes other than what they were ring-fenced for. We know of some instances where conditional grants were used to pay salaries of municipal staff. This is highly irregular and should not be allowed.
It is of concern for the IFP that this resolution calls for unspent conditional grants to be returned to National Treasury. Should COGTA not be concerned that conditional grants are not being spent for their intended purposes and within the stipulated timeframes? Municipalities should have IDPs in place and they should have project plans with timelines to guide the implementation of projects. If this is the case, then COGTA should be investigating why projects are not being rolled out according to plan and demand answers from officials employed and paid by tax payer’s money to monitor such projects.
It is incomprehensible that COGTA in KwaZulu-Natal would ask for unspent conditional grants to be surrendered to National Treasury instead of calling for answers for the non-spending. The Inkatha Freedom Party is of the view that non-spending or under-spending of conditional grants can be avoided if projects are monitored on a regular basis and progress reports are submitted to COGTA which are then followed up by site inspections by the Department. We cannot support the call to return unspent conditional grants while communities across our province are crying out for services and funds are being made available but incompetent officials fail to deliver. It is highly short-sighted and devoid of any imagination to make such a call.
Madame Speaker, The Back to Basics Programme that was launched on 17 February this year sets out five pillars detailing what is expected from municipalities in order to ensure efficient and clean governance. This Programme, if religiously implemented will address the concerns that I have raised earlier in my debate. I refer to concerns such as unqualified and incompetent officials, timeous and responsible spending of conditional grants and all other municipal funds together with performance monitoring and regular reporting.
The IFP, therefore call on the Department to ensure that the Back to Basics Programme does not go the way of most other initiatives of this government and end up as just ink on paper. The test will be in the implementation of the five pillars and close monitoring by COGTA.
I thank you,
Contact: Mrs Ncamisile Nkwanyana, 078 302 3991