KZN COGTA MEC HLOMUKA CONDEMNS DESTRUCTION OF MUNICIPAL PROPERTY AND VEHICLES IN LAMONTVILLE, ETHEKWINI

Posted Posted in News

KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Sipho Hlomuka has condemned in the strongest terms the wanton destruction of public property that took place in the Lamontville community in Durban where a Sizakala Help Centre and six vehicles belonging to the eThekwini metro were set alight this morning.

Hlomuka has called on the law enforcement agencies to speedily apprehend those who are responsible for this deed which is tantamount to sabotage of public infrastructure.

“The destruction of public property is unacceptable and there can never be any justification for the burning of municipal infrastructure and vehicles which are meant to serve our communities,” said Hlomuka.

“Images and videos circulating on social media showing the Sizakala Centre, which houses SASSA offices and a clinic, in flames is a clear indication that this incident was no accident and that it was caused by those who are seeking to undermine the provision of services to our communities,” said Hlomuka.

Hlomuka has called upon community members to come forward with information so that those responsible can be held accountable as this act of criminality is tantamount to treason. “The country is facing a war in attempting to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus and the destruction of a public health facility does immeasurable damage to government efforts,” said Hlomuka.

7,425 total views, 198 views today

KZN COGTA MARKS 2020 MANDELA DAY WITH THE LAUNCH OF WINTER WARMTH CAMPAIGN

Posted Posted in News

KZN Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) under the leadership of MEC Sipho Hlomuka has marked this year’s Mandela Day, in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic whose hardships now coincide with the winter season, with the launch of the Mandela Winter Warmth Campaign in social partnership with the several Non-Governmental Organisations.

“In the spirit of the Mandela Day and the 67 minutes we on this occasion annually devote to improving the lives of the disadvantaged fellow citizens, we are today from our social partners receiving 1500 blankets, 200 hygiene packs, 120 food hampers for distribution to the needy to alleviate the effects of cold weather and hunger,” said Head of Department Thando Tubane.

The department together with social partners also handed over a container house to a young family in Waterloo just outside Durban in Ward 58. The container house replaces an unsafe shack that the Ntuli family which is made up of 2 children and their parents used to live in.

KZN Cogta has taken this opportunity to work with like-minded social partners to source donations in the form of blankets for distribution to those who require assistance during a time when communities in the province are coping with the extreme weather conditions and the devastating effects of a global Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are grateful for every contribution we receive from our social partners in addressing the social challenges faced by our communities. Our thanks today go to representatives of the Muslim World League, Human Aid and World Assembly of Muslim Youth for these donations they have made. The intervention they have made come at a time when they are needed most to alleviate the effects of cold weather and hunger while we are in the Covid-19 pandemic

7,577 total views, 201 views today

KZN COGTA COMMENCES WITH REVIEW OF KZN PROVINCIAL SPATIAL DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORK

Posted Posted in News

KZN Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), under the leadership of MEC Sipho Hlomuka, has commenced with the process of reviewing the Provincial Spatial Development Framework (PSDF) as per the requirements of the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act, 2013.

The PSDF represents the long-term spatial vision of the province. It is to be consistent with and be formulated within the context of the National Spatial Development Framework. It is thus the spatial expression of the KZN Provincial Growth and Development Strategy (PGDS) and provides a spatial context for proposed strategic interventions.

The PSDF must guide the spatial dimension to achieve the goals and objectives of the PGDS in a targeted and spatial coordinated manner. Speaking about the review process, Hlomuka believes the department’s transparent process will solicit a wide range of views on how to better position the province in the midst of what is perhaps the greatest economic and healthcare challenge – the novel coronavirus which has decimated many countries.

Through the PSDF, KZN will have a spatial representation of the land development policies, strategies and objectives of the province, which include the province’s growth and development strategy.

On Wednesday the department, together with the Provincial Planning Commission will be hosting an introductory webinar which will unpack the review process.

The panelists will be made up of the following individuals:

• Mr M Msiwa who is the Chairperson of the KZN Provincial Planning Commission

• Mr TW Mchunu who is the Deputy Chairperson of the Commission

• Mr FR Brooks (Commissioner)

• Prof U Bob (Commissioner)

• Prof RW Green-Thompson (Commissioner):

• Prof N Gawe (Commissioner)

• Mr MM Mtshali (Commissioner)

• Dr LN Bhengu-Baloyi (Commissioner):

• Dr TI Nzimakwe (Commissioner):

• Ms Martie Milne (Office of the Premier)

• Ms Lisa Del Grande (KZN COGTA)

• Mr Sbongiseni Maseko-Isibuko (SeAfrica Development Planners)

• Ms Amanda Zungu (KZN COGTA)

Members of the media are invited to join and participate in the webinar which will be taking place tomorrow, 15 July at 10:00 AM on Zoom.

To register for the webinar visit:

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_mamt5AV0SmqKZBWOEBlR_w

You can also follow the discussions live on YouTube using this link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3JIVuHG2YvNCtuI8UWgULA?view_as=subscriber

Or you can follow it on Facebook using this link: www.facebook.com/kzncogta

9,660 total views, 200 views today

DISASTER MANAGEMENT RESPOND TO WEEKEND INCIDENTS AS KZN COGTA MEC HLOMUKA URGES COMMUNITIES TO REMAIN VIGILANT

Posted Posted in News

Inclement weather conditions over the weekend saw disaster management teams in KZN responding to several incidents which are now under control. These include yesterday’s storm which brought hail and snow to the interior parts of the province. The storm made conditions on the roads treacherous and caused the closure of smaller access roads in areas with excessive snowfall.

KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Sipho Hlomuka has warned communities to remain vigilant as inclement weather conditions continue through the winter season. During this time, the province faces the increased risks of veld fires, house fires and fires in informal settlements as well as strong winds and extreme temparatures.

Hlomuka has warned residents about the dangers posed by sources of heat, such as candles, paraffin stoves, gas stoves, heaters and braziers, when these are left unattended, potentially starting fires that could cause injury, death and/or the destruction of property in communities.

As communities we must:

• Listen to weather warnings on radio and television

• Keep matches and candles away from children

• Never leave children unattended near a lit candle or fire

• Never start a fire or use a heater while intoxicated

• Never leave fires unattended because embers can cause uncontrolled fire

• An open fire, stove or heater should not be used to dry clothes or shoes

• Keep a window open to ensure good ventilation when using an indoor fireplace, braziers or gas heater

• Plan and request assistance with burning of fire breaks

* Never throw away cigarette stumps in an open field

Disaster management teams continue to be on stanby in areas that are prone to incidents during the winter season.

2,414 total views, 4 views today

KZNCOGTA MEC HLOMUKA EXPRESSES CONDOLENCES FOLLOWING PASSING OF COGTA PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE CHAIR

Posted Posted in News

KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Sipho Hlomuka has learned with shock and sadness of the sudden passing of the Provincial Legislature’s Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Portfolio Committee Chairperson Ricardo Mthembu.

Hlomuka has expressed condolences to Mthembu’s family, colleagues and his party – the ANC, which he had served as the spokesperson in KZN.

“We have lost a pillar and a doyen of wisdom in Mr Mthembu whose vast knowledge and experience of local government was put to good use in the service of the people of our province. As Chair of the Cogta Portfolio Committee, Mr Mthembu provided important guidance to the department on crucial matters pertaining to the delivery of services to our communities” said Hlomuka.

“During this difficult time when the country and province battle against the spread of the novel coronavirus, we are shattered to lose one of our key foot soldiers, one who was at the forefront of ensuring that government’s response to this virus is implemented speedily and effectively,” said Hlomuka.

During this difficult time, we wish strength to the Mthembu family: May God give them comfort as they come to terms with their devastating loss.

3,542 total views, 2 views today

COGTA MEC HLOMUKA PLACES DISASTER MANAGEMENT TEAMS ON ALERT AS INTENSE COLD FRONT SET TO AFFECT PARTS OF KZN

Posted Posted in News
KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Sipho Hlomuka has placed disaster management teams on alert across the province following a warning from the South African Weather Service. The warning indicates that an intense cold front could hit parts of the province on Thursday going into the weekend.
The cold front is expected to bring the possibility of heavy rains, flooding, gale-force winds and snowfall in high-lying areas. Hlomuka has urged residents across the province to exercise caution as the expected change in weather conditions could pose a serious risk to human life.
“We are appealing to residents to take this warning seriously and to put in place the necessary measures to protect themselves and their families. Teachers and parents are requested to ensure that learners utilise safe routes on their commute to and back from school,” said Hlomuka.
“As a province, we take this weather alert seriously and we will be monitoring the situation, especially in areas that we know are prone to localised flooding. We are urging all motorists to be extra vigilant as roads can become slippery. We call for extra caution when crossing bridges, especially in low-lying areas, and we also urge residents to avoid crossing rivers. Those residing in low-lying areas are urged to seek shelter on higher ground”.
“The threat of snowfall in areas surrounding the Drakensberg is real and our teams will be monitoring the situation. We urge motorists to pay attention to the weather reports before embarking on their journeys to areas that are prone to snowfall,” said Hlomuka.

1,550 total views, 5 views today

‘LATEST MUNICIPAL AUDIT OUTCOMES DEMAND CONSEQUENCES FOR POOR MANAGEMENT’

Posted Posted in News

The latest set of audit outcomes of KZN’s municipalities show a slight improvement but they are certainly no cause for celebration. According to the report for the 2018/2019 financial year released by the Auditor-General’s office last week, our municipalities have maintained one clean audit opinion while 32 municipalities received an unqualified audit opinion, 18 municipalities received a qualified audit opinion, one municipality received an adverse opinion and two municipalities received a disclaimer of opinions.

Overall, there have been eight improvements against seven regressions in KZN with all other municipalities maintaining the status quo. These results are by no means satisfactory and the situation demands an urgent response. In the next few days, we will be meeting with all poorly performing municipalities to determine what measures are now in place to address all outstanding audit matters and what level of assistance is needed. Municipal accounting officers will also be expected to indicate the level of readiness for the upcoming submission of financial statements.

As Cogta – a provincial department which exercises general oversight over KZN’s local government institutions – we are determined to ensure that we lay solid foundations for radically improved audit outcomes in all of our municipalities. More specifically, we need to reverse the trend of poorly performing municipalities continuously incurring unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure. In this regard, we also need to determine the level of consequence management in all municipalities where such expenditure is leading to poor audit outcomes.

Other root causes reported by the Auditor-General as contributing factors to the negative audit outcomes in our municipalities include slow response to improving key internal controls by senior municipal management and the political leadership, inadequate consequences for poor performance and instability and prolonged vacancies in key management positions in municipalities. Considering how much time and effort we as Cogta have put over time into municipal audit outcomes by way of supporting municipalities, these results are simply unacceptable

The latest municipal audit outcomes must therefore be a wake-up call for all senior municipal officials whose poor performance has caused this as well as all mayors and councillors whose poor oversight has failed to prevent it. Our mayors have a critical role to play in financial management and providing leadership over the fiscal and financial matters of their municipality. Similarly, municipal managers run the administration and must take guidance from the mayors but ultimately, the accountability rests with these officials to ensure clean audits.

And last but not least, chief financial officers are technical experts in preparation and submission of annual financial statements of municipalities and dealing with their financial matters. Material adjustments to financial statements are an indictment on these officials because this reflects ill-discipline in maintaining the financial records of the municipality and reporting in compliance with the relevant legislation. We cannot rely on the Auditor-General to come and tell us at the end of the year what is wrong with our accounting and record-keeping!

It is obvious that poor audit outcomes must be prevented. If these occur, then it reflects poorly on leadership, and indicates a breakdown in the management of the institution and its systems of internal control which is the responsibility of the municipal manager and management team. If this happens, there must be corrective action and consequence management. The law is specific in relation to consequence management and any person responsible for, say, unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure, must be held to account.

This department has provided guidance to all concerned. We have also trained municipal officials and councillors, including mayors and members of Municipal Public Accounts Committees on dealing with unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure and consequence management. As Cogta, we maintain that ignorance is no excuse for contravening the law. We must do everything necessary to achieve clean audits and there can be no excuses for spending public funds and not accounting properly for them or for not following the law.

The new powers that have been given to the AG in terms of the Public Audit Amendment Act, allow the Auditor-General to refer material audit irregularities for further investigation if necessary and in certain cases, to demand the recovery of money lost from accounting officers. This will ensure that harsh consequences are meted out for non-performance.

Each stakeholder must play their part as defined in the law and this requires collective action with the administration implementing the processes and systems necessary, the mayor and council providing political leadership, monitoring effectively and performing rigorous oversight. As political heads of municipalities, mayors must ensure that the right people are in the right positions and that political interference in operational management is minimised. And unless municipal officials do their jobs properly and unless their work is overseen adequately by councillors, our municipalities will not achieve the audit outcomes their residents deserve.

The choice before our municipalities is clear: either they are prepared to take the hard decisions and discharge their duties in accordance with their mandate, or they face the consequences for poor performance. As Cogta, we have already demonstrated that we are not afraid to intervene in or even dissolve dysfunctional municipalities.

OPINION PIECE BY SIPHO HLOMUKA

KZN MEC FOR COGTA

3,242 total views, 1 views today

KZN COGTA INTERVENTIONS BRING WATER TO SCHOOLS AND COMMUNITIES AS PROVINCE BATTLES SPREAD OF COVID-19

Posted Posted in News

KZN Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) has delivered thousands of water tanks for domestic use by communities as well as schools across the province where shortages of potable water were being felt during various stages of the Covid-19-related lockdown.

“Through our water intervention programme, we procured and distributed via Water Service Authorities some 3000 water tanks for domestic use. We also engaged the National Disaster Command, which donated a further 2325 tanks. Of these water tanks, 1125 were ring-fenced for distribution to schools,” said KZN MEC for Cogta Sipho Hlomuka.

When the country enforced the Disaster Management Act lockdown regulations, effective from 27 March 2020 to date, KZN Cogta was mandated to lead and coordinate all water interventions to ensure portable water supply for domestic use and assist other government departments, including Education, Health, Social Development and Justice (courts). While the delivery of water is not a core function of the department, it has a responsibility to capacitate and support local government institutions who are tasked with this responsibility.

“Our needs analysis reflected that over 1000 schools in the province needed static tanks to augment water supply which battled with varying challenges, including unpaid municipal water accounts, dysfunctional or ageing water infrastructure and illegal connections, all of which negatively contributed to the water supply,” said Hlomuka.

KZN Cogta’s static tanks are making a difference in communities and schools where water shortages had long been a problem and where the supply of water became a matter of urgency with the onset of lockdown regulations, many of which require enhanced personal hygiene as a way to limit the spread of Covid-19.

“Our success in the delivery of water to communities and schools is something we are determined to build on even as we, as a department, face budget reprioritisation as a result of unforeseen expenditure incurred in the fight against the spread of Covid-19. The delivery of water is and will remain a priority,” said Hlomuka.

191 total views, 1 views today

KZNCOGTA’S WEBINAR REFLECTS ON GOVERNMENT’S RESPONSE TO COVID-19, OUTLINES RECOVERY PLAN

Posted Posted in News

KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Sipho Hlomuka today led a webinar on government’s response to Covid-19 with a particular reference to the province’s municipalities. The panellists also included provincial Salga chairperson Cllr Nonhle Mkhulusi and Cogta’s in-house local government experts. The session was facilitated by Ms B. Mgutshini who is the Deputy Director-General for Development and Planning.

“Deliberating on topical issues within the sphere of local government is what we do at Cogta as part of policy-making and responsive service delivery but deliberating on such issues in a webinar is a reflection upon the new normal. We are now living in a Covid-19 world and we have had to adapt to the new circumstances,” said Hlomuka.

The panellists made presentations on a range of municipal issues they have had to respond to in connection with Covid-19 in their fields of expertise. Cllr Mkhulisi talked about the role of councillors in a Covid-19 world that has been characterised by restrictions on physical engagements but also by an undiminished demand for the delivery of basic services by municipalities.

 

Cogta’s local government expert Sicelo Duma who is currently serving as administrator at Msunduzi drew on his experience in ensuring that municipalities improve oversight of their functions in a Covid-19 world as councillors work in a challenging environment where limits on physical meetings and interactions are imposed by the authorities.

 

The second local government expert from Cogta, Joey Krishnan, referred to her expertise in municipal finance to talk about the financial impact of Covid-19 on municipalities and the need to enhance revenue collection at a time when the government-imposed restrictions on economic activity and freedom of movement have resulted in major revenue shortfalls.

Hlomuka summarised government’s efforts in adjusting public sector’s operations to the new normal by limiting physical meetings and sensitising communities to the implications of the declaration of state of disaster, which included the national lockdown from 27 March. He also reflected on the work of the Provincial Covid-19 Command Council in the fight against Covid-19.

Hlomuka also emphasised Cogta’s efforts in formulating plans to support the recovery of local government post-lockdown, which is based on five pillars, namely, governance, finance, basic service delivery, performance management and the newly launched District Development Model. His department has engaged with municipalities to develop their own Post-Lockdown Recovery Plans.

 

The webinar is archived on YouTube and can viewed on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bE6HqYkdmuw

3,463 total views, 3 views today

MUNICIPAL AUDIT OUTCOMES SHOW SLIGHT IMPROVEMENT BUT NO CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION, SAYS KZN COGTA MEC HLOMUKA

Posted Posted in News

 

KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Sipho Hlomuka has noted the Auditor-General’s 2018/2019 audit outcomes of the province’s municipalities which show a slight overall improvement but no cause for celebration. The municipal audit outcomes were released by the Auditor-General’s office today.

 

KZN’s municipalities have maintained one clean audit opinion while 32 municipalities received an unqualified audit opinion, 18 municipalities received a qualified audit opinion, one municipality received an adverse opinion and two municipalities received a disclaimer of opinions.

 

Overall there have been eight improvements against seven regressions in KZN with all other municipalities maintaining the status quo. The 2018/2019 audit outcomes thus indicate that there is much room for improvement and that ensuring accountability by municipal leadership is key in this regard.

In a special meeting convened by Hlomuka last month with the province’s mayors, the implementation of consequence management measures took centre stage as the sphere of local government in KZN continues to suffer from the outbreak of Covid-19 which has put pressure on already depleted resources available to municipalities.

Hlomuka has emphasised his department’s commitment to supporting municipalities as they seek to improve their audit outcomes. A raft of measures has been implemented by the department in conjunction with the Provincial Treasury to monitor the implementation of audit report plans. This includes the appointment of financial experts to assist municipalities to improve their audit outcomes. This intervention will ensure that audit improvement strategies are implemented and more so the transfer of skills also takes place in the management of municipal finances.

 

Hlomuka will also call an urgent meeting with the province’s mayors and senior municipal officials to comprehensively deal with the latest audit outcomes. KZN’s poorly performing municipalities will be expected to present realistic audit improvement plans with particular reference to areas of under-performance.

3,331 total views, 1 views today