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SALGA roundup its Free State two-day visits and notes areas of serious concern and progress



Posted: 23 August 2018

The South African Local Government Association (SALGA) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting concluded its meeting on Thursday, 23 August 2018, in Bloemfontein, Free State following engagements with Mangaung Metro, Xhariep District Municipalities and its local municipalities.

Friday saw Mangaung Metro, Xhariep District municipalities making presentations to the SALGA NEC as expected, highlighting service delivery and development challenges that they were confronting and how they were also planning to resolve them. The engagement with Maluti-a- Phofung municipality was rescheduled.

Mangaung has an approved programme of the council which guide its direction. Largely, the governance systems in the metro are functional. The IDP for 2018/19 and Budget process plan has been approved by Council. The metro does not owe Eskom and has Water debt with Bloem Water which it plans to prioritise. The challenges confronting the municipalities included increased service backlogs and repairs and maintenance trends. The City has over the last 10 years invested approximately more than R2.5 billion toward repairs and maintenance of infrastructure.

Xhariep District highlighted its challenges with revenue and how relying on grants was negatively impacting to operations. The District made an appeal for funding related to water and electricity meters.  The financial viability for municipalities in the district remains a concerned for all.

As a leading municipal-member body in South Africa, SALGA has introduced a rotating system of convening scheduled NEC meetings throughout the nine provinces - with the Free State being the first to be engaged. The NEC has further called for the SALGA Provincial Executive Committees to rotate their meetings to include engagements with Districts in their respective provinces in order to maximise the interface of the organisation with its members and beef up the support offered.

The NEC is fully aware that local government faces a number of challenges throughout the country. These range from ongoing urbanisation and migration, the impasse between municipalities and ESKOM, drought, the need to grow the local economy and facilitate job creation, increasing service delivery demands and high expectations amongst residents.

This engagement with Free State municipalities was preceded by the quarterly SALGA NEC meeting on 22 August 2018. Some of the topical issues that the NEC deliberated upon included:
1.         The continued impasse between municipalities and ESKOM, with regard to outstanding dues to ESKOM and the role of ESKOM in electricity reticulation, which we believe is a municipal constitutional function;
2.         Challenges pertaining to the appointment of Senior Managers in municipalities inclusive of the renewal of contracts and the related competency assessments; and
3.         The finalisation of the local government position on the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Bill (AARTO Bill) and the Climate Change Bill.

During the meeting, the NEC also considered the Auditor General’s Report on SALGA for the 2017/18 financial year. The NEC is elated to announce that following five consecutive years of “clean” audits, SALGA’s achievement has now been extended to six consecutive “clean” audits, making us a credible voice in leading the local government sector towards full clean administration and good governance. We can proudly say we have walked the talk and led by example.

These results demonstrate the consolidation of SALGA as a high performance organisation and the return on the investment placed in developing policies, systems and capacity over the past few years.

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