The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) in the Free State notes and welcomes the appointment of Mxollisi Dukwana as a member of the Free State Provincial Legislature. We further congratulate Mr. Dukwana on his appointment as Member of Executive Council (MEC) responsible for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) which is the general overseer of municipalities in the province.
We particularly are thankful to the Provincial Government as led by the Premier for having seen the need to restructure the COGTA department which has in the past been neglected municipalities resulting in the fragmentation and collapse in service delivery through the province.
As per the state of local government barometer released by the National COGTA department in June this year, of the 23 municipalities in the province, 11 are dysfunctional while a further 11 are on the brink of dysfunctionality with only one municipality being classified as low risk. Some of the barometers to measure the stability of municipalities include political oversight and proper provisions of service delivery to our communities and maladministration. The identified dysfunctional municipalities include the Mangaung Metro, Matjhabeng, Maluti-a-phofung, Metsimaholo, and Ditlabeng Local Municipalities.
The barometer by COGTA is vindictive of the call that we as SAMWU have been making for a long time that municipalities in the province are being neglected and as such, they are doomed to fail hence the need for the Provincial Government to immediately intervene to quickly arrest the root causes that have resulted in municipalities failing on their constitutional mandate.
Of great concern to us is the fact that the negligence of the province’s municipalities has created a situation wherein municipalities are deliberately overlooking interventions of the Provincial Government and the National Council of Provinces wherein recommendations and reports highlighting the corruption in municipalities have been hidden away from the public.
We expect the new MEC to correct the wrongdoings in that department and withdraw the unlawful secondment of acting municipal managers in municipalities as well as the intervention in terms of section 139 of the Constitution in all the municipalities that have been identified by national COGTA as being dysfunctional.
The MEC and its department as provided for in the Municipal Systems Act are supposed to ensure that municipalities employ qualified and skilled senior managers and enforce compliance of legislation to the latter.
We, therefore, expect the MEC to act responsibly and accordingly by ensuring that those who failed in enforcing compliance with legislation are dealt with through the prescripts of the law. We are sitting with senior managers who don’t meet the required academic records and experience and have no concurrence issued. Unfortunately, these are the abnormalities that are bestowed and expected to be corrected by the incoming MEC.
In enforcing compliance in municipalities, the MEC should as a matter of priority deal with the issue of a Provincial COGTA HOD who has been appointed without clear terms in the contract of employment, a HOD who has played a major role in destabilising the province’s municipalities.
In welcoming Mr. Dukwana who by the way has several years as a legislator in the province, we call on him to show leadership and quickly attend to the root causes of the collapse and dysfunctionality of almost 50% of the province’s municipalities.
As SAMWU, we will immediately be writing to the MEC to seek an audience with him with regards to 13 workers that have been dismissed in Fezile Dabi District Municipality and the 33 dismissed at the Moqhaka Local Municipality in 2017 and 2019 respectively for raising issues of corruption in their municipalities.
We will also need the MEC to address the failure by most municipalities in the province to pay workers’ salaries on time, including the payments of third parties such as pension funds medical aid, and funeral policies, with particular attention paid to Kopanong Local Municipality whose account has now been attached by a pension fund for failure to pay over monies deducted from workers.
SAMWU remains committed to support and work with the department to clean the local government which remains the coalface of service delivery for residents. We will therefore be supporting the MEC and the Department in ensuring that municipalities are returned to normality and that residents do get the much-needed services.
Issued by SAMWU Free State
Tiisetso Mahlatsi | Provincial Secretary | 079 152 9648
Sandla Mahlathi | Deputy Provincial Secretary | 072 658 0725