KZN COGTAMEC HLOMUKA CONDEMNS SENSELESS MURDER OF INDUNA HLABISA

Posted Posted in News

Durban: KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Sipho Hlomuka has learned with shock and sadness of the assassination of Induna Prince Hlabisa of the Matshamnyama Hlabisa Traditional Council in the uMkhanyakude district.

He was murdered last night at his home by unknown gunmen. The loss of Induna Hlabisa is yet another attack on the institution of traditional leadership in KZN by forces that are hell-bent on undermining this important institution within our province.

Hlomuka has roundly condemned this senseless murder and called for the law enforcement agencies to leave no stone unturned in their search for the culprits who killed Induna Hlabisa.

Hlomuka has also called upon members of the Hlabisa Community to come forward with any information that might assist the law enforcement agencies in apprehending those responsible for this act of cowardice.

Hlomuka has also conveyed his condolences to the family of Induna Hlabisa, the Traditional Council which he served and to Inkosi Hlabisa to whom the Induna was accountable.

KZN COGTA MEC HLOMUKA TO LAUNCH MULTI-MILLION RAND FIRE AND RESCUE CENTRE IN UGU

Posted Posted in News

Durban: As part of strengthening the province’s ability to manage and respond to natural disasters, KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Sipho Hlomuka will be launching the state-of-the-art Ugu Fire and Rescue Centre tomorrow Tuesday, 24 November, in Port Shepstone.

The launch comes at a time when KZN continues to experience inclement weather conditions that have wreaked havoc in communities across the province. Just this past week, three lives were lost in KZN as a result of weather-related incidents.

Speaking in advance of the launch, Hlomuka believes that the beefing up of municipal capacity is crucial to arresting the carnage caused by inclement weather conditions on the province’s population.

During the launch Hlomuka will also hand over houses built for victims of the April 2019 floods which claimed over 70 lives across the province. The houses to be handed over by Hlomuka have been built in conjunction with various social partners.

Furthermore, the MEC will hold a public engagement with the community of Gamalakhe, where he will official launch the province’s Summer Season Disaster Awareness Campaign.

Members of the media are invited to attend this event, the details of which are as follows:

Date: Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Time: 08:45 am

Venue: Ugu Disaster Management Centre, Port Shepstone.

END

BODY OF MISSING 22-YEAR-OLD RECOVERED IN UMLAZI, AS MOP-UP OPERATIONS CONTINUE ACROSSKZN FOLLOWING HEAVY RAINS

Posted Posted in News

KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Sipho Hlomuka has sent condolences to the Mcilikazi family following the recovery of the body of their daughter Ziyanda who had gone missing on Wednesday evening when she has swept away while crossing the river in Umlazi F Section (eThekwini metro).

The recovery of the body means that the province has now lost three lives as a result of the inclement weather conditions that struck KZN this week. In the other two incidents, two persons were killed by lightning in uMlalazi and Ulundi municipalities on Wednesday when severe thunderstorms hit large parts of the province. In the incidents Sinothile Biyela (27) from Dlomodlomo area in Ward 10 of Mlalazi and Ntombi Zakwa (60) in uLundi, Ward 14, KwaNyoni area lost their lives having succumbs to their injuries when they were struck by lightning.

“We empathise with the families who have lost their loved ones in these tragedies. Every year during the summer season we experience inclement weather conditions that leave a trail of death and destruction in their wake. We express our condolences to the grieving families and vow to continue working with all municipalities to strengthen the outreach to warn them of the dangers posed by inclement weather conditions which can result in hail, severe thunderstorms and localised flooding,” said Hlomuka.

Hlomuka has repeatedly appealed to residents across the province to continue to be vigilant as inclement weather conditions continue to pose a danger to communities.

MOP-UP OPERATIONS COMMENCE IN KZN FOLLOWING HEAVY RAINS

Posted Posted in News

Disaster management teams have commenced with mop-up operations following the severe storms that struck the province last night and left large-scale destruction in their wake. The provincial Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), under the leadership of MEC Sipho Hlomuka, has received reports of incidents that are currently being responded to by the teams.

Yesterday the department issued a warning in which it referred to reports from the South African Weather Service that inclement weather conditions could strike large parts of the province. The weather forecast indicated the possibility of hail, severe thunderstorms, strong winds and heavy rains.

The department can now confirm that in the late afternoon yesterday a hail storm hit parts of Msunduzi and the Midlands where several houses were damaged. The storm also caused blackouts in a number of suburbs and technicians from the municipality are now working on the ground to restore the grid.

In Umlazi F Section, a woman is missing and is believed to have been swept away when crossing the local river. She was apparently part of a group of three people who were crossing the Umlazi River when they lost their footing and were overcome by the gushing water. Two of them were able to make their way to safety while the woman still remains unaccounted for.

In Umuziwabantu municipality (Ward 9, Bhudlu area), a 10-year-old was rushed to hospital after he was struck by lightning. In a separate incident, strong winds and heavy rains damaged several households in the area. Disaster management teams are still assessing the extent of the damages and an update will be issued to the media soon.

Hlomuka has appealed to residents to continue to be vigilant as inclement weather conditions continue to pose a risk to communities in the province. The latest warning from the South African Weather Service indicates that severe thunderstorms are expected to hit the Abaqulusi, Danhausser, eDumbe, eMadlangeni, eNdumeni, Newcastle, Nongoma, Nquthu, uLundi and uPhongolo this afternoon going into the evening. This inclement weather is expected to cause localised flooding, hail, and lightning strikes. Residents in areas that could be affected are urged to exercise caution.

MSUNDUZI BILLING SYSTEM IN SHARP FOCUS AS KZN COGTA MEC HLOMUKA PAYS SURPRISE VISIT TO MUNICIPALITY

Posted Posted in News

KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Sipho Hlomuka today paid a surprise visit to the Msunduzi municipality’s customer centre at the AS Chetty Building in Pietermaritzburg where he interacted with residents who utilise its frontline services, including the billing system.

During the visit MEC Hlomuka was accompanied by the Mayor of Msunduzi Cllr Mzimkhulu Thebolla.

“In order to gain an objective insight into the functionality of frontline municipal services, we are embarking on unannounced visits to various customer interface facilities in the province. We will also be interacting with residents rather than officials to assess the quality of services,” said Hlomuka.

KZN Cogta has been monitoring media reports about Msunduzi’s billing system and the department is now surveying the progress in dealing with the billing and other service delivery challenges in this municipality. Msunduzi is one of nine KZN municipalities currently under administration.

“We realise that the success of our ongoing intervention at Msunduzi will ultimately be measured by the improvement of customer services on the ground as perceived by those who utilise them on a regular basis, that is Msunduzi municipality’s many residents and ratepayers,” said Hlomuka.

During the visit Mayor Thebolla emphasised the municipalities commitment to getting the billing system running at the optimum level.

KZN Cogta will share its insights gained during today’s surprise visit with Msunduzi’s appointed administrator Sicelo Duma and his team of officials. The department believes that the visit will provide a unique perspective on the municipality’s administration and service delivery challenges.

MSUNDUZI BILLING SYSTEM TO COME INTO FOCUS AS KZN COGTA MEC HLOMUKA CONDUCTS OVERSIGHT VISIT TO MUNICIPALITY

Posted Posted in News

KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Sipho Hlomuka will conduct an oversight visit to the Msunduzi local municipality where he will monitor the functionality of frontline services and specifically the municipality’s billing system.

During the visit, Hlomuka will engage with residents who utilise Msunduzi’s customer interface. Hlomuka has been monitoring developments with regards to the municipality’s billing system and he will now survey the progress in dealing with the billing and other service delivery challenges.

Members of the media are invited to attend this engagement, the details of which are as follows:

Date: Thursday, 12 November 2020

Time: 13h00

Venue: AS Chetty Building, Msunduzi local municipality

For any enquiries contact: Ms Nonala Ndlovu, 066 282 6903; or Senzelwe Mzila, 082 474 1882

KZN COGTA MEC HLOMUKA VISITS VOTING STATIONS AS VOTERS BRAVE INCLEMENT WEATHER TO CAST BALLOTS IN 12 BY-ELECTIONS

Posted Posted in News

KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Sipho Hlomuka today visited several voting stations in eThekwini metro as voters in the province braved the inclement weather to cast their ballots in 12 municipal by-elections, many of which had been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“By-elections are one of the pillars of a vibrant democratic local government. Today we have visited several voting stations to monitor the progress of these by-elections which are taking place against the backdrop of Covid-19 and the rainy weather which has affected KZN in recent days,” said Hlomuka.

KZN today hosted a total of 12 municipal by-elections – in eThekwini metro (Wards 32, 36, 81 and 84), Ray Nkonyeni Ward 2), Msunduzi (Ward 25), Nquthu (Ward 15), Umvoti (Ward 7), uPhongolo (Ward 4), Mtubatuba (Ward 10), Mthonjaneni (Ward 6) and Nkandla (Ward 13). The by-elections are as a result of vacancies.

“The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has disrupted many aspects of our lives, including the filling of councillor vacancies in many KZN municipalities, and today is an important step in our efforts to return life back to normal, even though the deadly pandemic is still with us,” said Hlomuka.

KZN Cogta has commended the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) for the hard work they had put into ensuring that residents in all wards where by-elections took place today were aware of what was expected of them as they came to vote. The IEC’s task was complicated by poor weather.

“We can say that we have observed general compliance with social distancing and sanitising on entry at all voting stations we visited today. We also take this opportunity to reiterate our call for socially responsible behaviour in all public spaces while the pandemic continues to affect us,” said Hlomuka.

structural collapse leaves one dead in Ethekwini

Cogta MEC Sipho Hlomuka has sent condolences to the Ngcongo family in eNgonyameni following the death of their daughter Zanele Ngcongo (36) when the wall of the house she was occupying in uMlazi V Section collapsed on her in the early hours of this morning.

Reports received by the department indicate that the structural collapse could have been caused by the inclement weather conditions.

MEC Hlomuka has urged residents to continue to be cautious as inclement weather conditions persist in large parts of the province. Disaster Management teams are continuing to monitor areas that are prone to flooding across the province.

KZN COGTA MEC HLOMUKA TO CONDUCT BY-ELECTION MONITORING PROGRAMME IN ETHEKWINI

Posted Posted in News

Twelve wards within the province of KZN will be hosting by-elections tomorrow, Wednesday 11 November. As part of oversight over the sphere of local government in the province, KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Sipho Hlomuka will be visiting voting stations in the eThekwini metro (Wards 81 and 84) to monitor the by-elections.

During this visit, Hlomuka will be joined by the Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Glen Mashinini. The by-elections, which are taking place for the first time since the country went into lockdown, are an important mechanism in safeguarding democracy in the sphere of local government in the province.

Members of the media are invited to attend this engagement, the details of which are as follows:

Date: Wednesday, 11 November 2020

First Venue: Isikhumbuzo Primary School, uMlazi C Section, Sbusiso Mdakane Road (eThekwini metro Ward 81)

Time: 07:15 am

Second Venue: Apostolic Faith Mission Paradise Church, AA Section uMlazi. (eThekwini metro Ward 84)

Time: 08:30 am

Third Venue: Ingelosi Church, eNgonyameni, Ward 84

Time: 09:15 am

SPEAKERS’ FORUM ADDRESS BY KZN COGTA MEC SIPHO HLOMUKA

Posted Posted in News

Programme Director;

Honourable Speakers present;

Ladies and gentlemen

It is a singular privilege to be part of this auspicious occasion where we exchange ideas on how better to strengthen the institution of Speakers, which is one of the most visible pillars of our participatory democracy at local government level.

We meet today, in this virtual settling due to continuing Covid-19 precautions, to deliberate on strengthening local government in order to ensure good governance, enhance accountability and speed up service delivery as we slowly prepare for the upcoming local government elections scheduled to take place in 2021.

We are greatly honoured to have in this online forum the Speakers from our various municipalities, without whom these municipalities simply would not function. As a department whose role is to exercise general oversight over local government, we are well aware that we could not fulfil our constitutional obligations towards municipalities without close cooperation with our municipal presiding officers. We also believe that the unity of purpose among our Speakers is an important ingredient in advancing and strengthening the democratic processes at local government level.

Programme Director, we all know full well that being a Speaker is more than wielding the gavel and shouting “Order, Order!”. Speakers are an integral part of our participatory democracy. They have a critical role in ensuring that the democratic institutions they lead can ultimately become the voice of the people that is articulated through their elected representatives, that is councillors. This is why we, as Cogta, have a vital interest in ensuring that all decisions taken by our municipal councils are taken according to the principles of democratic decision-making. And the role of Speakers in ensuring this is paramount.

Role and functions of the Speaker

As you are all aware, the municipal Speaker is a full-time councillor whose role and functions are set out in Section 37 of the Municipal Structures Act. According to the Act, the Speaker:

• presides at meetings of the council;
• performs the duties and exercises the powers delegated to the Speaker by the council;
• ensures that the council meets at least quarterly;
• maintains order during meetings;
• ensures compliance in the council and council committees with the Code of Conduct for councillors as set out in Schedule 1 of the Municipal Systems Act; and
• ensures that council meetings are conducted in accordance with the rules and orders of the council.

In practice, all of this means that the Speaker’s role in a municipality is key to ensuring oversight, accountability, integrity, discipline of office, and the efficient running of council meetings. As such, impartiality in the exercise of his or her function is essential for the Speaker. The Speaker must clearly distinguish between his or her activities as a politician and his or her functions as a Speaker. It also means that the function of the Speaker and the non-partisan exercise of that function must be respected by councillors, political parties and various interests represented in the council.

Key principles of the Speaker’s role and their application

The key principles underlying the role of the Speaker therefore are:

• chairing of council meetings;
• implementation of the Code of Conduct; and
• exercise of delegated functions, including facilitating public participation in legislative matters; establishment and functioning of ward committees; and support to councillors.

The overall principle in the determination of the function of the Speaker is that the Speaker is in charge of the legislative arm of the municipal council. In practice, this means that he or she must guard the integrity of the legislative process. Furthermore, the Speaker must protect the ‘checks and balances’ between the legislature and the executive, in other words, the ‘oversight’ that the council must exercise over the actions of the executive.

Integrity, privileges and interests of the council and councillors

The Speaker is the guardian of the integrity of the council and the guardian of members’ privileges and interests as council members. The privileges and interests of councillors include freedom of speech and immunity in the council as well as the use of council facilities, receipt of allowances, training and support, etc. Importantly, this role, combined with the Speaker’s role in terms of the Code of Conduct (Schedule 1 to the Systems Act), requires the Speaker to guard against the abuse of councillors’ privileges and interests.

What this means is that the type of functions that the Speaker exercises requires him or her to be the legitimate guardian of the integrity of the council and of council members. This does not mean that a Speaker is somehow elevated above the council. He or she must exercise his or her duties within the rules determined by the council. Speakers have also been assigned further responsibilities and duties which cover the Standing Rules of Council; Code of Conduct for Councillors; councillors’ attendance of council and committee meetings; facilitation of stakeholder engagements; facilitation of municipal oversight function; ward committees; and public participation.

Code of Conduct for councillors

The Speaker must actively implement the Code of Conduct for Councillors and develop mechanisms to monitor the general conduct and performance of councillors and report to council annually on the conduct and performance of councillors against the Code of Conduct for Councillors. In this regard, the Speaker must also investigate any suspected breach of the Code of Conduct for Councillors, and report to Council on the outcomes. The Speaker must subsequently ensure that reports on investigations into possible breaches of the Code of Conduct for Councillors are submitted to the MEC for Cogta in line with item 13(3) of Schedule 1 of the Municipal Systems Act, 2000.

I know that some of you may be beginning to ask yourselves if we are on some kind of a refresher course of your roles. My answer to this is that one thing I have learned during my time in public service is that the more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realise the less I know. We can all agree that learning never really ends. And this is why we must take every opportunity to learn from one another to be able toexecute our responsibilities better.

How the Speakers discharge their responsibilities – Key observations

I have observed in my role as MEC for Cogta that there are Speakers who are hesitant in taking decisive action on matters of ill-discipline among councillors. And yet it is Speakers’ job to ensure that ill-disciplined councillors are sanctioned according to rules that govern discipline. Cases of councillors failing to attend meetings, disrupting meetings and councillors failing to perform their duties get referred to my office regularly. This would not be the case if the Speakers knew and did their job in relation to matters of councillors’ conduct.

There are also Speakers who hesitate to call to order Mayors whose Executive Committees are not submitting Section 44 reports to the municipal council. And yet it is the Speaker’s job to ensure that the Executive Committee and other Section 79 Committees of the Council report regularly on their activities. Functional committees are an essential ingredient in a successful municipal council.

Some Speakers have similarly adopted a lax attitude towards the critical function and role played by Ward Committees and the enhancement of participatory democracy at a local level. You cannot possibly be proud that you are the Speaker when you lead a municipal council with dysfunctional ward committees. These ward committees are critical components in transforming our local government; they are indeed enablers of effective service delivery. If your municipality is plagued by public protests, you should be asking if your ward committees are working well or at all. Before a disgruntled community resorts to protests, it should have the option of raising its concerns about service delivery at ward committee level. And in many instances, a functional ward committee could resolve service delivery issues before they spin out of control and give cause to public protests.

I have also observed, worryingly, that some Speakers do not promote the culture of building consensus. This is critical in ensuring that divisions are minimised and the municipal council functions as a unit. We have seen that where municipal councils are sharply divided, even on trivial issues, service delivery is ultimately compromised. There are several municipalities in this province where we have had to intervene as the Provincial Government because the council had not acted with the necessary unity of purpose.

I have likewise observed that some Speakers do not fully comprehend the legislative role of the municipal council. This is why we have municipalities that fail to prepare and approve credible Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) and Budgets. The budgets of some municipalities are routinely found to lack credibility and the same would likely apply to IDPs.

As Cogta, we are concerned that all manner of tensions are becoming commonplace between the political and administrative interface in our municipalities. If you go through the latest reports from the Auditor-General, you will inevitably observe that poor oversight is one of the main reasons for poor audit outcomes and regressions. In such municipalities, you will often find instances of poor compliance with the legislative and regulatory frameworks which ultimately compromises good governance, sound financial management and, in the end, also service delivery.

Way forward

The idea behind this Speakers’ Forum is to ensure adequate understanding on the part of all municipal Speakers of what is required of them in their elected roles within their given councils. The ideal municipality, as we at Cogta see it, begins with a competent, fair and proactive Speaker whose understanding and focus on his or her role means that his or her Speaker’s office executes its mandate without encroaching on the executive mandate of the Mayor or the oversight mandate of individual councillors. As Cogta, we will expect nothing less of every one of our municipal Speakers in this province.

The upcoming local government elections give this prerogative a fresh urgency. If your municipality is not performing well, you are unlikely to be re-elected when your residents casts their ballots next year. If your municipality is the scene of public protests in communities, this is a good indication that things are not going well at the council level either.

You will be aware that over the past year, we have been jointly launching the groundwork for the District Development Model (DDM) in our individual districts. This is not just another layer of bureaucracy – on the contrary: the new model, which seeks to coordinate service delivery across different spheres of government around municipal districts as hubs, is a much needed change in the way we will conduct business at local government level going forward. As Speakers, you will have an important role to play in this process and it is vital that you internalise the new model even before it goes into full operation in your municipalities.

As I conclude this address, my hope is that this forum will contribute towards smooth running of our municipalities – as we slowly emerge from the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic and as we prepare for the 2021 local government elections. The Speakers are a key component in making our local government work better. They are also powerful office bearers and if they are to improve the way our local government works for communities, they need to understand and discharge their roles to the best of their ability.

I thank you!

KZN COGTAMEC HLOMUKA UPDATES PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON COVID-19 EXPENDITURE BY MUNICIPALITIES

Posted Posted in News

KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Sipho Hlomuka has urged municipalities to ensure transparency and value for money in all public procurement of Covid-19-related goods and services as long as much expenditure continues to be incurred in the province.

“Although Covid-19-related expenditure by municipalities, like any other expenditure by municipalities, is within their purview, KZN Cogta is monitoring such expenditure to ensure that ultimately all funds earmarked for the fight against Covid-19 are spent judiciously,” said Hlomuka.

KZN Cogta has today presented a report on Covid-19-related expenditure by the province’s municipalities to the Provincial Legislature’s Cogta portfolio committee. The report also includes all the names of the service providers that were utilised by municipalities where services were procured. As of 2 October 2020, such expenditure across KZN municipalities stood at R812.6-million, of which eThekwini metro accounted for R480.9-million.

“As a department which exercises general oversight over local government institutions in the province, we continue to urge municipalities to ensure that all public procurement processes they engage in ultimately meet the test of transparency and value for money set for them by the National Treasury and the Auditor-General,” said Hlomuka.

The department has directed municipalities to ensure that Mayor’s table a detailed report on COVID-19 expenditure to Council for adoption which is to be included in the Special Adjustment Budget allowed for in respect of 2019/2020 by National Treasury Circular 99 by 15 June 2020.

“The list of suppliers has been submitted to the Provincial Treasury who will analyse it against the Central Supplier Database to determine the demographic profile of Companies. The Auditor-General will be specifically focusing on COVID-19 Expenditure during the 2020/2021 MFMA audit of municipalities which recently commenced” said Hlomuka.

KZN Cogta will continue to monitor municipal expenditure, including Covid-19-related expenditure, and provide the necessary support to all municipalities which in view of the department may require it. The department is committed to clean governance and it is continuously imparting this ethos on all municipalities in the province.