By: OTTO B KUNENE, MPL,
KZN Legislature, Pietermaritzburg,
21 May 2021
Hon Chairperson, the Hon MEC, the Hon members of the Legislature, Amakhosi of our Province, the HOD and Senior Officials of the Department.
From the onset I wish to quote what the Founder of the IFP, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi said when he addressed IFP Councillors on 12 July 2012 in Pinetown, he said “When you choose to represent a political party, you are not taking a job. It is not a nine to five position, with a salary, that you can leave when a better offer comes along. It is a vocation that must become part of your identity. When you walk through your community, you are not getting from point A to point B, you are looking for opportunities to serve and uplift. When you speak to the people, it’s not to catch up on the latest gossip, but to hear their needs and find ways to meet them. Being a leader means living intentionally, knowing that your words, actions, behaviour and attitude are constantly being watched and evaluated “.
I thought I should begin with these wise words from this great Son of the soil in order to remind ourselves of the responsibilities we carry as elected people and also to inform those who intend to stand for public office in October Local Government Elections what they are getting themselves into.
In the past year we have seen a lot of demonstrations by the people of our Province demanding service delivery. Some of the people of our Province go to an extent of blocking roads in order to demonstrate their dissatisfaction about poor service delivery by their respective Municipalities. When the people of our Province resort to extreme measures to vent their frustration about the unsatisfactory manner some Municipalities render the services, it requires that all concerned pause a moment to ask themselves whether they are true to the mandate they were elected into office for or not.
The Ladysmith Herald newspaper of 11 May 2021 carried a headline which read thus, “ Ntokozweni residents drink water alongside the animals”. Ntokozweni is one of the neighbouring townships in the Colenso area situated along the R74 road. uThukela District is responsible for water supply in this area of our Province. I also wish to quote a letter of the concerned reader of Ilanga newspaper who sent a letter to the Editor which was published on 13-15 May 2021, titled “Iyangikhathaza eyokungaphephi nokungcola kwamadolobha aKwaZulu Natal”. These newspaper articles indicate how desperate the situation is out there which the people of KwaZulu Natal have to face day in and day out.
I do not condone the blocking of the roads which in many cases inconveniences even the sick, who cannot reach hospitals, even those who had passed away cannot be transported to a mortuary or to their places of eternal rest but I’m underscoring a point that services must be rendered by all spheres of government to the people of our Country and our Province because they deserve better.
2021/22 Budget Matters
The IFP commends the Department for obtaining a clean audit with no findings as per the latest Auditor General’s report. We are also happy that the Department reduced irregular expenditure from R67m to R742000, while fruitless and wasteful expenditure reduced from R1,5m to R11000.
We urge the Department to totally eliminate the irregular and fruitless expenditure when spending this year’s budget of R1,78b.
We note the budget cuts of R 179,444m incurred by the Department which will have a negative effect to the operations of the Department and is bound to affect service delivery.
We welcome the fact that the Department spent its EPWP conditional grant in 2019/2020 and we’ve also noted that the Department redirected funds for an 18-month EPWP learnership and in-service training for 250
TVET college students so that they complete their qualifications while getting practical experience.
We are concerned that the Department was allocated R1,994m for EPWP in 2020/21 while it was allocated R2,777m in 2019.
We hope that the R345m budget allocation for local governance will be utilised to ensure good governance and sound financial management in all municipalities within our Province.
We have also noted that the Department conducted 20 investigations on fraud, corruption and maladministration in 18 municipalities within our Province.
The NCOP Chairperson, Mr Amos Masondo while addressing SALGA National Assembly as reported in the Daily News of 14 May 2021 urged National and Provincial governments to support, assist and strengthen Municipalities instead of seeking to usurp their powers amid concerns
over a growing number of repeated interventions in troubled Municipalities. He continued to say many of the issues that often-triggered Section 39 interventions in Councils would not exist if the three spheres of government worked with one another in mutual trust and good faith in accordance with the Country’s Constitution.
He also lamented that Provincial interventions had been used to achieve political ends, adding that there was also a worrying trend of a lack of uniformity in the application of Section 139 across Provinces or within a Province. He also said National and Provincial governments should act in accordance with Section 141 of the Constitution which directs these two spheres of government to support and strengthen the capacity of Municipalities to manage their own affairs, exercise their powers and perform their functions.
I hope Hon MEC we should agree with the concerns expressed by Mr Masondo and ensure that in this Province of KwaZulu Natal what he talked about does not happen.
We call upon the Department to fill all the 180 vacant posts. It will be good if the Department were to prioritise feeling the 147 critical posts during this financial year. We express a hope that qualified and competent individuals will be recruited to fill these vacancies.
We call upon the Department to expedite the process on the Commissioned study on water, sanitation and electricity backlog.
We are concerned that many Municipalities do not set aside from their budgets the 8% for the maintenance of infrastructure. We urge the Department to impress upon Municipalities to set aside these funds in order to enable them to deal with the challenges of old infrastructure failing to deliver services as expected.
Traditional Institutional Management
The IFP notes the R546m budget allocated for payment of salaries. However, we are concerned about the plight of Traditional Council Secretaries who up to now are receiving stipends of R1600 each per month from the Department since 2007.
I continue to receive telephone calls from Traditional Council Secretaries voicing their dissatisfaction about these stipends which in real terms now amount to R1000. Traditional Council Secretaries do not enjoy any medical aid benefits and also do not belong to any pension scheme which is very crucial to any person who is employed. It will be good for the department to submit a report to the Portfolio Committee indicating how much is in the coffers of each Traditional Council in order to see whether Traditional Councils are in a position financially to top up on the stipend that the Department gives to the Traditional Council Secretaries.
This matter and that of the back pay to izinduna remains a source of deep concern and the Department must find ways to address them. Traditional Council Secretaries and izinduna play an important role in the rural parts of our Province, in areas that fall under Amakhosi.
The IFP is happy that we now have a new King.
The Hon President of the IFP, Mr VF Hlabisa said responding to the news that we now have a new King, “The IFP welcomes the historic appointment of His Royal Highness
Prince Misuzulu Sinqobile kaZwelithini to the throne of his father, His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu.
We also look forward to his coronation, knowing that his reign will continue an uninterrupted lineage of leadership that has seen the Zulu nation thrive united for more than 200 years since its founding by King Shaka kaSenzangakhona.”
It will be amiss of me not to salute the Traditional Prime Minister of the Zulu nation and Monarch, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi for the role he played during the mourning period up to the moment where the new King was announced and the role he continues to play as the Traditional Prime Minister of the Zulu nation and the Monarch.
The IFP is concerned about the killings of Amakhosi and izinduna. We call upon the Department to prioritise finding a solution to this scourge.
The IFP supports the budget even though we remain concerned that the matter of Traditional Council Secretaries is not catered for in this budget.
The IFP will continue to exercise oversight of the Department through the Portfolio Committee to ensure that the Department implements the APP and also utilises the budget to improve the quality of lives of the people of our Province.
I thank you Hon Chairperson.