No to service delivery by ‘hook, crook or tender’ – Motlanthe
Making local government everybody’s business does not mean realising service delivery goals “by hook, crook or tender”, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe has said.
Motlanthe’s comments come hot on the heels of Auditor-General Terence Nombembe’s findings that R1.05 billion in tenders were irregularly awarded to municipal employees, councillors and other government officials and their close relatives in the past financial year.
Nombembe also found that 46% of the country’s 283 municipalities awarded tenders to employees, councillors and other state officials while 65% of councils engaged in unfair or uncompetitive tender processes.
Delivering his closing remarks at the start of the South African Local Government Association’s (Salga) special conference at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand this morning, Motlanthe appealed to mayors, councillors and municipal officials to communicate regularly with residents to avoid service delivery protests.
Motlanthe said that the recent spate of service-delivery protests may have little to do with a lack of service delivery and more to do with the “mismatch” of services delivered and a lack of communication between councils and citizens.
“Turning local government around is no longer about asking the government what government has done, but is also about all of us taking responsibility and asking each other what have we done together to turn the tide.
“But I must hasten to add that when we say local government is everybody’s business we are under no circumstances saying that local government is everybody’s business by hook, crook or tender,” said Motlanthe to giggles among delegates.
As municipalities were at the coal face of service delivery, Motlanthe urged councils to involve communities in everything they do.
“It is only when communities take ownership of their wards, know what is being done in them and generally have an interest in the quality of services that their municipalities supply, that we will be able to know when a contractor has not completed projects, when there is no water and have knowledge about the needs of our communities,” said Motlanthe.
Salga’s special conference comes on the back of the auditor-general’s devastating findings which revealed that only 13 of the country’s 283 councils received clean audits.
Nombembe was, however, encouraged by the fact that 128 councils received unqualified audits, which meant that they were closer to reaching their clean audit goal by 2014.
Motlanthe said Nombembe’s findings required a “coordinated response” and that the goal to achieve clean audits for all councils was achievable.
He called for ward committees to exercise greater oversight over all development projects in their councils.
Motlanthe echoed President Jacob Zuma and Nombembe’s calls earlier at the conference for municipalities to appoint officials with the necessary skills to carry out their duties, including professionals such as chief financial officers, municipal engineers and human resource managers.
Municipalities also had to ensure that they established public accounts committees and audit committees because municipalities that had improved audit outcomes had these in place, said Motlanthe.
Municipalities also had to draw lessons from other provincial government departments and councils, he added.
He singled out the City of Johannesburg as an example of an “outstanding” municipality with a good city planning model.
“Today a trip to Soweto reveals a sub-city with tarred roads, parks, malls, car dealerships and recently a performance arts centre,” said Motlanthe.