Minister Dlamini -Zuma calls upon municipalities to strengthen Local Economic Development

The Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has called for municipalities to strengthen the capacity of their local economic development business units.

The Minister was speaking today, at the local government Indaba which was hosted at the Durban ICC.

According to the minister, municipalities have to improve the functioning of their respective LED units to help bring direct investment. Which will in turn assist to create jobs and stimulate the economy.

“As municipalities, you have to continue to attract investment, this is the only way in which you can ensure that you build your rates base. This is a task that municipalities should be seized with since the current funding model does not allocate sufficient resources to municipalities” said Minister Dlamini-Zuma.

The Indaba was attended by Premier of the Province Sihle Zikalala and brought together mayors, exco members, MPAC chairpersons, senior officials in local government and state-owned entities such as Eskom and water boards.

In his remarks, the Premier called upon municipalities to build financial management systems that are resilient and will comply with all prevailing legislation.

The Premier also commended the municipalities that have consistently built robust systems which ensure that public finances are protected and utilised appropriately as indicated in the latest audit outcomes from the Auditor General.

“We should learn from Ukhahlamba which continues to lead our province in attaining clean audits. The AG noted that although three municipalities in KZN obtained clean audits, this did not translate into improved service delivery per se”, said the Premier.

Zikalala also called for municipalities to address issues raised by the AG. “The report of the AG shows that political instability, inexperienced officials and system-related challenges led to the poor opinions at the three disclaimed municipalities, all of which were under administration. Inkosi Langalibalele, for instance, was again disclaimed in 2020-21 mainly due to challenges relating to its amalgamation”.

During the panel discussions various stakeholders such as the police, Eskom, the KZN provincial house of traditional leaders, the department of water and sanitation and the Auditor General engaged with delegates on topics such as good governance and accountability.

The key theme that emerged from the discussions is the need for local government leaders to ensure that capacity building takes place within their respective municipalities, this ensures that the municipality is better able to deliver services to communities efficiently and effectively.

The issue of public participation also came under the spotlight during the discussions, with municipalities being called upon to take their communities into confidence whenever they have service delivery challenges.

“If we fail to inform our communities about our challenges as municipalities we are shooting ourselves in the foot and aggravating those situations as communities end up protesting purely because they do not have updated on service delivery programmes,” said MEC Hlomuka.

“We do not wish to see more protests in our communities hence the call that we are making today that councillors should convene meetings with their respective communities” concluded Hlomuka.