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The South African Local Government Association (SALGA) briefs Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), on its Annual Report for the period 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021




Posted: 18 November 2021

On Tuesday, 16 November 2021, the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) reported to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) that the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) had given the organisation a clean bill of financial health for the 9th consecutive year.

Leading a delegation of the SALGA National Executive Committee was Acting President Cllr Deon De Vos and Deputy President Cllr Sebenzile Ngangelizwe, who were supported by the organisation's executive management team.

A 9-year streak with clean audits of SALGA's books

Chief Operations Officer (COO) Lance Joel, delivered a detailed presentation on behalf of the delegation that covered aspects of SALGA's financial statements, its 2017-2022 strategic plan, the effects of Covid-19 on the organisation and its employees and the measures the organisation put in place to usher in a new 5-year term of municipal councils following the November 1 local government elections.

Joel said the organisation's uninterrupted run of clean audits was borne by a culture of excellence in financial reporting and that it served as a positive example for SALGA's member municipalities to follow.

úFrom a financial audit point of view SALGA has had, at least in the last 20 years, unqualified audits with the last 9 being clean audit outcomes. We are hoping and doing our best to take that to 10 at the end of this particular financial year. It's not an easy task as it requires a lot of discipline in ensuring that as an association we lead from the front and by example in managing our finances.

With regard to SALGA's non-financial performance as set out in its annual performance plan, the organisation achieved 85% or 117 out of 137 targets in four broad areas: (1) Municipalities with sustainable and inclusive economic growth and spatial transformation, (2) Good governance and resilient municipal institutions, (3) Financial sustainability of local government and greater fiscal equity and (4) An effective and efficient administration support service for the delivery of SALGA programmes.

Guiding the transition towards the 5th Term of Democratic Local Government

The role played by SALGA before, during and after the local government elections can never be underestimated.

Some of the organisation's local government transition activities included, among others, a special National Members Assembly (NMA) in May that adopted a management and transition framework for the new 5-year term of municipal councils, workshops for Municipal Managers and Council Speakers on their roles during the transition, transition guidance circulars and the drawing up of a Coalition Guidance Framework.

Following the conclusion of the November 1 municipal elections where a total of 9473 public representatives were elected for metropolitan, district and local municipalities, the first council sittings for newly elected councilors are taking place.

New members of the councils will be made up of the Speaker, Executive Mayor or Mayor, Members of the Executive Committee, Members of the Mayoral Committee, and a Chief Whip.

Results for the 2021 municipal elections have shown that only 12.3 million South Africans, out of 26 million registered voters, went out to vote in the elections.

In addition, the number of councils with no outright majority increased from 27 in 2016 to 66 in 2021.

Hung councils in which no single political party holds a majority of the council seats have seen political parties hold talks about entering into coalition governments in order to run those municipalities.

The COO reported to the committee that SALGA, in collaboration with the University of the Western Cape's Dullah Omar Institute, developed a framework for coalitions in local government.

The guideline, which has been tabled to political parties for voluntary adoption, is applicable to hung councils after a general election, by-election or when an existing coalition collapses.

úThere is a need for a framework that can guide political parties and independent councillors on the formation and sustainability of coalitions, said Joel.

The key focus of the framework aims to resolve the challenges of instability and encourage cooperation in coalitions.

Integrated Councillor Induction Programme (ICIP)

After the swearing in of new councils, SALGA reported that it will also be running its Integrated Councillor Induction Programme (ICIP). The programme will provide induction training and professional development for newly elected and returning councillors.

SALGA conducts this programme in the interest of ensuring that new members of councils acquire and maintain the skills necessary to perform their duties.

Consequence Management and Accountability Framework for local government

Another key issue that emerged during the engagement was SALGA's Consequence Management and Accountability Framework for Local Government, which is now a step closer to reality with a submission having been made to COGTA.

The framework provides a concise guide on available options on which applicable consequences for which type, or class of transgressions and non-performance apply, reflect attendant implications for failure to act by leadership at both political and administrative levels and it promotes a culture of accountable professional and ethical public administration that places emphasis on good governance and effective service delivery to local communities.

Member of the Committee Hon. Gordon Gcinikhaya Mpumza, commended SALGA for its exemplary handling of public finances, saying it promoted transparency and good management.

úLet's commend you SALGA for continuing to be an example for continuing to achieve a clean audit. You are an example to the 257 municipalities throughout the country.

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