The ANC itself established the culture of non-payment twenty one years ago and since then it has done nothing to end it, Dr. Pieter Groenewald, the parliamentary spokesperson on cooperative governance and traditional affairs said.
Dr. Groenewald said today during the budget debate of this department that incompetent officials in the form of cadre-deployment should be removed immediately and service fees should without exception be collected to resolve local governments’ problems.
“The minister and his deputy year after year come to Parliament with this budget debate and tell us how concerned they are and talk of the many challenges facing them. Today again, the minister said that only 56% of municipal managers and 61% of financial managers are qualified to do their job.
“Is government surprised that we are stuck with this chaos at local government level? Municipalities are owed R98 billion in service fees with government departments not paying their accounts at all. How is this possible? If a person is aware at the beginning of a financial year that he is in arrears, he has to make the necessary payments. Why must the arrears be carried over year after year?
“Take the Northwest province as example. In the past five years, there was hardly any municipality whish had received an unqualified audit. The government announced numerous projects with administrators who in many instances are even more corrupt than officials.
“It does not resolve the problems. Now you want to do it by amalgamating municipalities. The Demarcation Board now has to change certain municipal borders to add wards. The argument used to justify this is to say that municipalities with a poor financial basis could gain from this.
“The government is deceiving itself if it thinks this is so. The problem is poor financial management and incompetence and it appears that the relevant minister does not know what the real problem is.
“If you want to fix local government, incompetent officials should be fired immediately without merely replacing them with other cadres. And you have to ensure that service fees are paid.
“Look at the example in Soweto where people do not want to pay because the ANC had in 1994 said that services would be free, should it win the elections. This is once again a case of the ANC making political promises which it knows it won’t be able to fulfil.
“These things have led to the chaos that we now have on local government level. It does not help the minister comes to Parliament year after year to say he is concerned. He should start doing something about the situation,” Dr. Groenewald said.
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