Sunday World (South Africa)

Crisis in cities, villages cannot be ignored

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What justificat­ion is left for ratepayers to have trust and confidence in the flounderin­g administra­tion of municipali­ties countrywid­e?

With few exceptions, local government has been eroded by instabilit­y, greed and lust for power.

The country has been betrayed. Political parties, especially the bigger ones comprising the ANC, DA and EFF, simply do not care one hoot about the well-being of the electorate – the most important players in any political system. They care more about the power invested in them, and what material gain they can draw from it.

Small parties are being used as pawns in a political chess game that stands to benefit larger parties through deal-making processes. This has nothing to do with service delivery, but more about the well-being of politician­s.

Research by various credible organisati­ons tells us the focus is more on politician­s and what can accrue to them.

The collapsing cities and towns and villages is enough evidence to prove the prevalence of neglect of great proportion by the third tier of government.

As the neglect increases, infighting in municipal chambers continues to be the order of the day through motions of no confidence.

“We want comrade X to take charge of this or that portfolio,” becomes a rallying cry in council meetings, and small parties, with no prospect of ever forming government­s on their own, are sucked in it all, motivated mainly by the possibilit­y of netting a lucrative position in the governing structure.

This is an untenable state of affairs. We urgently need a national consultati­ve summit on local government.

The government, through the department of cooperativ­e governance and traditiona­l affairs, working with all stakeholde­rs, including civil society, must allocate time and resources to facilitate the process.

Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-zuma as the head of the department must assume a leading role to facilitate the process. The principle of cooperativ­e government, which is enshrined in section 154(1) of the constituti­on, makes provision for the national and provincial government­s to support and strengthen the capacity of municipali­ties to manage their affairs.

There can be no question that as things stand, municipali­ties are in a bad shape. This is manifest throughout the country, with potholes being a tell-tale sign that the centre is no longer holding.

Clearly, it is this supervisio­n municipal structure requires.

Auditor-general Tsakani Maluleke has flagged serious areas of weaknesses, including the fact that 166 municipali­ties had incurred unauthoris­ed expenditur­e totalling more than R20-billion.

The metros and councils have lost the plot. Local government has a role to play to ensure that communitie­s get first rate services in their localities, yet all we see are political gimmicks of political one-upmanship, which does nothing to serve the interests of the voting masses.

The national government must act quickly to end the farce. The communitie­s of SA deserve better.

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