As part of the oversight visit, Mkhize met the representatives of the seven distressed municipalities in Polokwane last week. Minister Mkhize emphasised that the visit was to strengthen the Back to Basics approach in municipalities.
“We want clean municipalities and ensure that our communities are able to benefit,” said Mkhize. Other municipalities in the province that were the focus of the meeting include: Thabazimbi Local Municipality, Musina LM, Mogalakwena LM, Fetakgomo/Tubatse LM, Modimolle/Mookgopong LM, Vhembe District Municipality.
According to Mkhize, these municipalities have been experiencing problems related to service delivery, unstable management and poor governance as well as poor financial management over the past few years. A number of interventions both nationally and provincially have in some cases yielded positive results but some remain less than optimal.
He said that the meeting noted that some of these municipalities share the same challenges such as the failure to fill senior managers’ positions and unstable management arising from issues related to placement of employees within the institutions.
Minister Mkhize further noted that there was a decline in revenue collection by these municipalities, which negatively affected their financial viability and ability to honour their financial obligations for bulk electricity and water. He urged municipalities to go back to basics and efficiently provide municipal services to be able to attract investment in their areas, which could improve revenue collection.
He challenged them to rise to the occasion and establish viable local economic development strategies for economic growth, job creation and poverty eradication. The meeting also noted that of major concern in these municipalities were: Poor audit outcome by the Auditor-General, which has highlighted severe strain and pressure that they are under which is often characterized by unrelenting regression. Minister Mkhize also expressed his concern that municipalities were approving unrealistic budget without the funds to finance the projects.
“The budgets should be aligned to the strategy and this will make it possible to ensure better and improved service delivery that benefits communities. The challenges of the municipalities that invested in the VBS Mutual Bank made this situation worse as the funds might have been lost forever,” said Mkhize.
Municipalities committed to working together with all sectors and stakeholders to ensure better delivery of services.
This commitment stems from the agreement that all municipalities should be able to perform their duties in terms of the legislation and the Constitution and not be classified as distressed or dysfunctional.
The filling of vacancies was emphasised in an effort to ensure that municipalities are able to perform as expected. The key posts are those of technical directors, chief financial officer and the Municipal Manager. From the presentation by the Province, there is progress in the filling of posts and the municipalities were urged to fast track the process more to ensure that strategic activities are successfully implemented.