Local government spiralling downwards, says Salga
‘The trust deficit is expanding and causing problems’
The SA Local Government Association (Salga) in Gauteng says local government is on a downward trajectory, dogged by a trust deficit ,and needs to be capacitated to deliver on its mandate of basic services to communities.
Salga is the employer body representing SA’s 257 municipalities, which are at the coalface of service delivery.
Many of these have been run into the ground due to maladministration, looting and corruption; others are struggling to pay salaries and employment benefits, and deliver basic services.
While parties in the province continue to battle for control of the municipalities, service delivery has suffered, resulting in violent protests.
“We must restore confidence in local government,” Salga Gauteng chair Jongizizwe Dlabathi said in his opening address at the association’s provincial members assembly (PMA) in Tshwane yesterday.
“The trust deficit is expanding and causing a lot of problems for our councillors.”
The PMA is a meeting of all municipalities in Gauteng which gather to reflect on progress made in the sector with a view to strengthening systems where problems arise.
The gathering brings together senior decision makers in the province’s municipalities, including mayors, speakers, municipal managers and chief financial officers.
Dlabathi, an ANC councillor in the City of Ekurhuleni and a possible contender for that metro’s mayoral position, said local government had been faced with the challenge of governments.
He said the 11 months after the November 2021 municipal elections had been characterised by delays in approving budgets and integrated development plans.
The City of Ekurhuleni is expected to hold a council meeting today to elect a new mayor after DA councillor Tania Campbell was ousted from the position through a motion of no confidence about two weeks ago.
A council meeting held last week to elect the mayor was postponed after the ANC and EFF could not agree on a mayoral candidate.
The delays punctuated the difficulty of putting together a coalition government.
Campbell’s removal on October 26 came a day after the high court in Johannesburg confirmed DA councillor Mpho Phalatse as Johannesburg mayor, after her unlawful removal on September 30.
Dlabathi said there was a dire need to reposition the sector and restore trust.
“As much as we have registered life-changing developmental gains, it does appear local government is going through a downward trajectory,” he said.
“Local government is performing under extreme pressure, and is faced with the challenges of financial viability, capacity constraints, overregulation of the sector, chalcoalition lenges of leadership capabilities and lack of adequate support for the sector.”
Gauteng’s 15-million residents have been receiving poor service delivery from municipalities in SA’s economic powerhouse, which contributes about 40% to GDP.
Dlabathi said a disclaimer – the worst possible audit outcome – and a qualified audit opinion should not be acceptable in Gauteng’s 11 municipalities.