Gauteng Department of COGTA has eroded the state of Gauteng municipalities

Madam Speaker,

The Gauteng Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) is a consistent poor performer, and incapable of delivering its core mandate to the residents of Gauteng.

The department received an annual allocation of R562.2 million in the 2019/20 financial year and have underspent across all its programmes by R66.5 million.

The department has underspent by R16 million in Programme 1; Administration, underspent R4.1 million on Programme 2: Local Governance, further underspending of R43.2 million on Programme 3: Development Planning, and R3.1 million on Programme 4: Traditional Institutional Management.

Under expenditure by this department was also noted in the previous financial year which is as a result of a lack of planning and management skills.

It is shocking that CoGTA consistently underspends on its allocated budget, yet many of our municipalities are in financial distress and in desperate need of financial assistance to provide much needed services.

CoGTA has dismally failed to provide adequate support to our municipalities, some of which have been embattled by financial challenges and are failing to render day-to-day services to its own people. The ANC-led local and district municipalities in Gauteng are in dire need of assistance from this department such as Emfuleni, Merafong, Mogale City, Lesedi, Sedibeng and West Rand District.

According to the annual report, the department did not achieve its target to support Emfuleni Municipality with repairs and maintenance on sewer pump stations. 

This was due to CoGTA’s failure to finalise arrangements in time for the transfer of funds to the implementing agent. 

This is yet another failure by this department under the political leadership of MEC Maile who has led to exacerbating the crisis in Emfuleni and the prolonging of the suffering of the residents. 

The administrators are also failing to rescue Emfuleni from a financial crisis and to deliver services to the residents.

The money that has been underspent by this department could have been used to assist Emfuleni to pay debt owed to Rand Water. Emfuleni is currently experiencing water shortages as Rand Water has further imposed water supply reductions as a credit control measure.

Service delivery has completely collapsed in Emfuleni under the watch of these administrators yet this department that has a mandate to assist this municipality is failing to address the repair of the sewer infrastructure in the municipality.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has released a report of the Gauteng Provincial inquiry into the Sewage Problem of the Vaal River. The report highlights the need for an urgent and comprehensive intervention, over and above the current section 139 intervention by the Gauteng Provincial Government. In terms of short-term intervention, the SAHRC recommends that the National Department of Human Settlements and Sanitation and the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements and COGTA, together with experienced wastewater management specialists and the Treasury Department, draw up a cost-effective interim plan to urgently stop or limit the flow of sewage in the streets and homes of people living in Emfuleni.

We will be closely monitoring the progress with regards to the short-term interventions as this department consistently fails to prioritize this sewer problem in Emfuleni that has been in existence for years.

Madam Speaker,

Furthermore, this department did not achieve its target to assess the municipalities for the functionality of statutory council committees. These committees play a crucial role in terms of oversight and holding the executive into account.

The department is quick to lay the blame at the door of municipalities for not spending their allocated grants as well as not doing enough to remedy the situations arising, yet are consistently incapable of responding timeously to issues raised thereby placing municipalities in an untenable position. CoGTA requires a strong co-operation between the province and the respective municipalities.

The ANC-led Gauteng administration have nothing to be proud of as far as support for local municipalities is concerned. 

The ANC-led Gauteng administration made a drastic decision to place Tshwane under-administration which they did, and were later embarrassed by a court of law when the Gauteng High Court reversed this unlawful dissolution. 

It seems like the ANC did not learn from the Tshwane saga, now instead of placing Sedibeng District Municipality under administration as recommended by Advocate William Mokhari, they have opted to ignore such crucial recommendations and went on to appoint the compromised former Lesedi Mayor, Lerato Maloka as the new mayor for Sedibeng District Municipality.

Clearly, the ANC-led Gauteng Government is desperate to cling on power at the expense of the poor residents of Sedibeng who are in dire need of basic service delivery.

Madam Speaker,

There was money allocated to each municipality across the country by the National Treasury as part of the Covid-19 relief package. To date there is no feedback on how each municipality in Gauteng spent the money and there is also no breakdown in terms of how much money was allocated to each municipality.

There are some cases which were opened as a result of mismanagement of the Covid-19 relief package such as the City of Tshwane, then under administration of the ANC-led Gauteng Provincial Government, which was invoiced R82 million for catering services at homeless shelters. An internal report leaked to the DA indicated that the “charges per invoice was grossly overstated, the food is the equivalent to 5-star executive and luxurious catering”. Mismanagement by officials created a “field of pillage”.

The public deserve to know what happened to this case as well as how many more such cases occurred if the details of municipal Covid-related transactions are made available.

Madam Speaker, in March last year when the ANC-led Gauteng Government disbanded the Tshwane Council and placed the municipality under administration, there was no Eskom debt, an unqualified audit outcome for the last financial year, an operating surplus, and a two-notch credit upgrade from Moody’s.

In May last year, two months after the lockdown, the administrators approved for public comment a city budget that was underfunded by at least R2 billion. The DA has inherited mess from the ANC-led administrator which clearly indicates that ANC is no longer fit to govern Gauteng.

Most of our municipalities are under severe stress, and this should be a cause for major concern for this department. CoGTA consistently fails to spend on allocated budget, lacks commitment in terms of achieving its targets and fails to prioritize.

This department is an absolute disaster, the MEC is not committed to improve service delivery to the people of Gauteng, he is very decisive when engaging with the media and the public but is failing to hold the senior managers to account. 

Instead of calling councillors ugly names in this House, MEC Maile should rather commit to avoiding another taxpayer-funded disaster of a Tshwane Council dissolution, and start assisting those municipalities that have almost reached the brink of total collapse, courtesy of the poor leadership of his own party. 

I thank you.