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South African Local Government Association (SALGA) president, Cllr Thembi Nkadimeng | Joint sitting of Parliament’s debate on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA)





Posted: 18 February 2021

There needs to be a minimum barrier for qualification to serve as a local government representative in addition to the adoption of a performance-related pay regime once one has entered the sector. 

This is according to South African Local Government Association (SALGA) president and Polokwane Executive Mayor, Cllr Thembi Nkadimeng, who on Wednesday, 17 February, 2021, addressed a joint sitting of Parliament’s debate on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Urging political parties to reform their candidate selection processes in order to improve the quality of party representatives set to serve as councillors in the upcoming local government elections, Cllr Nkadimeng, put forward an idea to support and drive efforts that would see councillors have the minimum knowledge and understanding needed to run this level of government. 

“As we are gearing towards the 2021 municipal elections, as SALGA we call upon all political parties to prioritise recruitment of skilled and knowledgeable political candidates above trying to manage municipalities after they have deployed political leaders,” said Cllr Nkadimeng.

“A more radical proposal is that there should be a set of minimum criteria for councillors, coupled with the introduction of a performance management and accountability based remuneration regime for councillors and Senior Managers.”

The broader conversation about local government representatives being skilled advocates for their communities has been gaining momentum as the nation edges closer towards the 2021 local elections. 
Cllr Nkadimeng lent her voice to the discussion by emphasising the importance for councillors to understand the political, economic, social and cultural aspects of the regions and communities they are representing in order to improve service delivery outcomes. 

Municipal audits

Cllr Nkadimeng shared her reflections on the local government audit outcomes for the 2018/2019 financial year, which reported that only 11% of the country’s 257 municipalities received clean audits (unqualified with no findings).

She said it was essential that cases of violations and transgressions in municipalities were followed through and that those responsible for mismanagement to be held accountable.
“Central to extracting accountability within our municipalities is to ensure that MPACs are given the necessary authority, including to refer their findings to investigative agencies, table forensic reports or hold the executive leadership of the municipality accountable,” said Cllr Nkadimeng.
Municipal revenues

Cllr Nkadimeng reiterated SALGA’s proposal that household debt to municipalities can be written off in exchange for the installation of prepaid water and electricity meters.

The proposal could help boost municipal revenues as users would be required to pay upfront for services. 
Other proposals included the establishment of a district revenue collection agency and the amendment of the Municipal Systems Act so that it is not only municipal councillors and employees who may not be in arrears with their municipal bills for a period of more than three months.

District Development Model (DDM)

Cooperative Government and Traditions Affairs (CoGTA) Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, reported on progress made in relation to the roll-out of the DDM, a practical Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) mechanism for all three spheres of government to work jointly and to plan and act in unison.
The operational model has been piloted in sites namely; the OR Tambo and Waterberg District Municipalities as well as the eThekwini Metro.

She said the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as Cyclone Eloise provided a good training ground for the operational model to improve coordinated responses across the different spheres and entities of government.

“Our responses to COVID-19 and Cyclone Eloise also confirmed the importance of localised responses which are coordinated and integrated across all spheres and departments,” said Dr Dlamini-Zuma.
“In response to these states of disaster we were able to share and coordinate our limited resources and personnel, as contemplated by the DDM. Through aligning long outstanding and new projects the DDM is recording real and tangible progress in the pilot sites.” She added that the Municipal Infrastructure Grants (MIGs) that have been allocated in the three pilot sites have been coordinated through the DDM operational model and was confident that they would translate into tangible outcomes in the places where people live, work and raise their family.

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