ADDRESS BY KWAZULU-NATAL MEC FOR COGTA SIHLE ZIKALALA DURING THE MUNICIPAL EXCELLENCE AWARDS, DLI HALL, DURBAN, 22 NOVEMBER 2022
Mayors and Councillors;
Representatives of SALGA;
Amakhosi and izinduna present;
KZN CoGTA Head of Department, Mr Tando Tubane
Senior Government Officials;
Leaders of Business and Labour;
The people of KwaZulu-Natal;
Members of the Media;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Good evening to you all! Sanibonani! Dumelang! Salaam!
Let me begin by adding my voice in offering you all a warm welcome to this majestic, beautiful, and hospitable province of KwaZulu-Natal.
We are honoured and pleased to have in our midst representatives of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) who for more than two decades have been a credible and reliable partner of CoGTA and local government leading from the front to inspire service delivery.
We truly appreciate our collaboration and partnerships with SALGA and other stakeholders which geared towards making local government truly capable, developmental, and to help us realise the vision of South African communities which are truly united, non-racial, non-sexist, equal and prosperous.
And to municipal managers, councillors, mayors, and public officials, today you are truly our guests of honour because these awards are about recognising and rewarding your hard work. Today we are here to salute your remarkable contribution to changing the quality of life of our people through improved service delivery.
Tonight, we wish to celebrate the value of professional management and to recognise impactful projects that have significantly improved the quality of life of the people of KwaZulu-Natal.
As you would know, these Provincial Municipal Excellence Awards attract entries from all our municipalities and also provide space for the public to participate in choosing winners.
For a number of reasons, including the reprioritisation of budgets, the global pandemic of COVID-19, and the July 2021 unrest, we have not had these important awards since 2018.
We are therefore truly pleased that we have succeeded to return this significant event to our provincial calendar as a meaningful gesture of appreciation to the KwaZulu-Natal municipalities that are going the extra mile to qualitatively transform the lives of our people by bringing much needed services to our communities and stakeholders.
We also wish to pay tribute to the people and communities of our province who have participated in helping us identify the winners because ultimately, they are the best positioned to judge as it is them on the ground who encounter excellent or poor service delivery.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We cannot overemphasise the importance of local government in improving the lives of the people and in helping our democratic state forge a new South Africa founded on the principles of democracy, non-discrimination, equality, and shared prosperity.
Understanding that local government is the coalface of service delivery, the 6th Administration under His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa has taken a particular interest and renewed focus to reduce bottlenecks to the delivery of basic services by introducing the District Development Model (DDM). The DDM brings together all spheres of government under the ONE-PLAN-ONE BUDGET framework to improve coordination and accelerate service delivery.
In this regard, we also wish to remind this august audience that the 6th KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government identified as its first priority the improvement of the basic delivery of services, in particular water.
The verdict is still out there in the remaining two years of this administration on how far we have succeeded to turn our municipalities around and improving the provision of services as we committed in 2019. We cannot, however, ignore the important work that KZN CoGTA and our municipalities are doing to attend to the water challenges through the implementation of the KwaZulu-Natal Water Master Plan.
On behalf of KZN CoGTA, we wish to thank all the hard-working municipality officials, mayors, and councillors who ensure that local government works around the clock. We saw you on the frontline of service delivery during the height of the deadly COVID-19 which took the lives of many of our people and wreaked havoc in our provincial economy.
Once again, we express our solidarity with families and colleagues who lost their loved ones. We also saw your patriotic commitment during the floods early this year ensuring that much-needed emergency services are provided and lives are saved. Thank you once more!
As we honour you this evening, it would a neglect on our part not to acknowledge the loss that the sector is also facing with the murder of councillors and municipal officials that are being murdered. We have learned that since the November 2021 local government elections, about 54 municipal officials and councillors have been murdered throughout the country. The Western Cape is said to have the highest incidence of the murder and intimidation of Councillors and official while in KZN we have lost no less than 11 councillors since the local government elections.
We wish to assure you all that this is a serious challenge that is of great concern to all spheres of government and SALGA. It is an issue that we were debating in the NCOP this afternoon. Apart from strengthening law enforcement, we wish to urge every councillor, every municipal manager, every public official to work hard towards eliminating the deep-rooted culture of violence in our society.
This culture which sometimes is motivated by greed, corruption, and competition over limited resources and fight for positions seems to be rearing its ugly head as we see with the despicable crime of the murder of amakhosi and izinduna in KwaZulu-Natal. It is the same culture of violence across society that we see dehumanising women and children, exposing them to violence and trauma on a daily basis. We implore upon all of you to fight corruption courageously and relentlessly in municipalities and to ensure that those who commit crime face the full might of the law.
We urge you all to work hard in advancing local economic development in your municipalities and in making your localities attractive to investments and job creation. There can be no doubt that poverty, unemployment, inequality, and various social ills provide a fertile ground for a culture of violence to take root.
It must be our generational mission to make our municipalities safe, socially cohesive, and prosperous. And so, when we deliver social infrastructure, build schools, bring water closer to communities, and electrify our rural communities and informal settlements, we are also contributing to building a firm foundation upon which we can create the KwaZulu-Natal of our dreams.
If we all prioritise the development of communities, especially the vulnerable poor and youth, we are protecting our own future by building on the solid rock of peace and stability and lessening the chances for the counterrevolution to undermine our hard-won democratic gains.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Tonight, must be remembered as an evening where collectively we succeeded to raise the profile of local government. We have to do this to foster trust and to create a better image and more informed understanding of the local government sector.
Today, we intend to focus on what is working and identifying those municipalities that are leading by example. It is our opportunity to celebrate good practice and excellence among your peers so that we can all learn from one another.
At this point, please allow me to highlight the broad categories that various municipalities will be recognised for this evening:
Best Performing Ward Committees in terms of functionality in the 2021/22financial year
This category recognizes an outstanding Ward Committee that has a record of consultation mechanisms with its community. Here we are paying attention to evidence of an effective public participation programme.
We can attest that those municipalities where communities are involved in the life of a municipality, where there is a two-way communication process, and where the leadership of municipalities regularly consult, service delivery protests are reduced and trust is restored in local government.
Best managed electricity project by a municipality
The winning municipalities in this category were able to accomplish electricity connections to households within specified time and within the allocated budget, thus changing people’s lives.
These municipalities are rewarded for efficiency in accelerating basic service delivery to very needy communities.
The impact of electrification (notwithstanding load shedding) has clearly resulted in improved socio-economic conditions where households were able to connect to modern technologies such as computers and smartphones. We also see businesses and entrepreneurs thriving because of electricity connections.
Best Recycling Project managed and supported by a municipality
With the emergency of climate change and its disastrous effects on humanity and in KwaZulu-Natal, we cannot overemphasize the need to protect the environment from pollution. The category on recycling recognizes those municipalities which have responded to the call to support the waste recycling culture. Through it, we wish to encourage many more municipalities to offer dedicated support to individuals and SMMEs that are working with waste, helping clean our environment, and supporting green economy initiatives.
Best Managed Landfill Site
It is important that landfill sites are properly managed and adhere to bylaws. This is for the well-being of all including nature on which we depend. We have sadly had the experience of communities taking Umsunduzi Local Municipality, for instance, to the Human Rights Commission and ultimately court on a landfill site that was not managed properly.
This category of Best Managed Landfill Site, therefore, seeks to reward those municipalities that have well-run and functional landfill sites. Compliance would include, for instance, that the Landfill facility is licensed, is fenced, and has an Operational Plan.
Best Implemented Service Delivery and Budget Implementation Plan (SDBIP)
Winners in the category would have achieved at least 95% of the targets that were set for the previous financial year.
The winning municipalities received Clean Audit opinions on Performance Information. Quarterly performance reports submitted to Oversight structures on time. Also, there’s evidence of Improved Audit Opinion on Annual Financial Statements and Performance Information.
Best Developed Integrated Development Plan (IDP) for the 2021/22 Financial Year
This category rewards municipalities that achieve no less than 85% in the IDP scoring. The criteria utilized for the determination of the Best Developed IDP are the Credible IDP assessment criteria that are applied in the MEC’s IDP assessment process. We again wish to encourage municipalities to ensure that all stakeholders, including our traditional leaders and communities themselves, are involved in the crafting of IDPs so that they can feel a sense of ownership and be in a position to effectively monitor their implementation.
Clean Audit Opinions
The category of Clean Audit Opinions cherishes municipalities that have achieved Clean Audits in the 2020/21 audit year.
Municipalities that have achieved clean audits have been found by the AG to possess these attributes:
- Its financial statements and performance report give a transparent and credible account of its finances and its performance against the targets that had been set. In other words, these accountability reports present a reliable picture of the municipality’s performance.
- The municipality complied with the important legislation that applies to it and, where transgressions did occur, they were rare or not material.
Best and sustained sound Financial Management
With these awards, we seek to reward municipalities with the best and most sustained financial management and viability. As KZN CoGTA, we remain committed to offering extra and skilled personnel to support to struggling municipalities to turn their finances around.
Among others, the criteria include:
- Positive Audit Outcomes (either a Clean or Unqualified with matter opinions) for the 2020/21 audit year.
- Funded budget status for the 2021/22 Financial Year
- Cash coverage ratio – within the Treasury Norm of 1 – 3 months
- Debtors’ collection rate – within the Treasury Norm of 95% revenue annual collection
Allocation and spending on the Repairs and Maintenance (O&M) budget
This important category rewards municipalities that have budgeted more than the Treasury Norm of 8% on repairs and maintenance based on Property, Plant and Equipment (PPE) for the 2021/22 financial year and had spent the R&M budget.
Winner of the Night
The biggest award this evening will indeed be “Winner of the Night”. We all need to learn from this municipality as we seek to develop ideal municipalities throughout KwaZulu-Natal.
We will be presenting this prestigious award to the municipality that met the criteria of a stable municipality. This is a municipality with governance structures which are functional. In this municipality, there is clear evidence that Ward Committees and Municipal Rapid Response Teams are functional.
A number of our municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal and throughout the country are showing poor financial results and no municipality can be sustainable with poor financial audit outcomes. This is one of those municipalities that provide hope. As such, we can reveal that the “Winner of the Night” would have:
- Received positive audit outcomes on Performance Informationin the 2020/21 audit year.
- Passed funded budgets for the 2021/22 Financial Year.
- Revenue collection within the Treasury Norm of 95%.
- No ESKOM or Water Board debt.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Tonight, is a night of the hard workers, the innovators in local government, and those passionate about service delivery. It is about rewarding leadership and team effort in the service of our people.
We must begin to also emulate the spirit of entrepreneurs and encourage communities to think like them. Where many see problems like littering, disruption in electricity supply, lack of transport options, entrepreneurs see opportunities for growth and innovation.
As we go through limited budgets, we have no doubt that the leadership of the local government sector will innovate, think outside the box, and be entrepreneurial in approaching our challenges.
Once again, congratulations to the winners and we hope that next year it will be the turn of your municipality to be recognized if you missed out this evening.
Growing KwaZulu-Natal Together!
I thank you.