Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane criticised the Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM) for its lack of leadership, with all six of its local municipalities struggling with service delivery and consistently receiving “scathing” audit outcomes.
Mabuyane was speaking at a CHDM strategic planning session last Thursday, where he said this was an election year for local government, and a time for reflection on whether they have fulfilled the mandate given to them by the masses in 2016.
“You have to answer whether or not you have met the basic needs of the residents of the district, whether you provided water, sanitation, electricity and human settlements. You have to answer whether or not you have created an environment for businesses to invest in the district to increase job creation for your residents. Local government exists specifically for that reason, to serve communities and nothing else.
“I seriously do not know how you are going to say you have fulfilled the mandate you were given by the people of your district when municipalities in the area have challenges of maladministration,” he said sternly.
Mabuyane said both the CHDM and the Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality had mayors, councillors, speakers and municipal managers, but there were cows roaming the town under their watch.
“Why is refuse piling up in the streets of Komani, why are you allowing government to be cursed by the people? Why are you allowing people to miss the cleanliness of the town during the apartheid days? If you find it so difficult to clean the town, how much difficulty will you find in more complicated development initiatives? Are you that blind not to see what the people are complaining about in Komani?” he asked.
The premier instructed the troikas of all municipalities, including the CHDM, to develop a thorough plan to keep all the towns of the district clean.
“On the week of March 15, I want to come and join you on a massive clean-up campaign of Komani which you should sustain after I leave. You must show leadership so that the residents can follow your lead.”
Mabuyane indicated that the recent auditor-general’s reports on audit outcomes were very scathing on the state of financial management in the municipalities of the district.
“You all know about the devastating results of your audit outcomes, starting from the district municipality to local municipalities under its jurisdiction.
“Residents see the health status of a municipality in its audit outcomes. When you get negative audit outcomes consistently, residents lose confidence in the elected leadership and will either steer away from voting or vote differently. You must learn from what happened in places like Nelson Mandela Metropole – it started with poor audit outcomes which impacted on service delivery as the municipality could not account for finances and it spiralled out of control.”
Mabuyane said the leadership of the district municipality had a great role model in struggle stalwart Chris Hani, whose values they ought to emulate by improving the livelihood of the poorest people.
He said provincial government was going to “save” municipalities in the district from self-destructing so they could be fit and healthy to serve the interests of the people.
“The treasury and co-operative governance and traditional affairs departments will focus on your rescue mission this year. They will also assist you to improve spending your municipal infrastructure grant allocation and revenue collection,” said Mabuyane.
Last Wednesday, the treasury department declared the CHDM budget adjustment “unfunded”, with some highlighted issues related to unrealistic revenue collection projections.
Mabuyane commended the CHDM leadership for putting up a fight against the coronavirus, indicating they needed to translate the same work ethic to other developmental areas.