ROLE OF SOCIAL PARTNERS IN COMBATING DISASTER IN THE PROVINCE APPLAUDED BY MEC HLOMUKA

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Durban: Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC, Sipho Hlomuka has applauded Non-Governmental Organisations for the active role they play in providing support to communities who are afflicted by weather-related incidents across the province.

This morning MEC Hlomuka held a special breakfast with Social Partners consisting of organisations that work with the department to respond to incidents and disasters in communities.

During the breakfast, MEC Hlomuka hailed the important role played by social partners in providing emergency relief to communities during their greatest hour of need. The breakfast which is hosted at a time when the province is expecting an increase in the number of weather-related incidents as a result of the summer season, which brings with it heavy rains, hail, strong winds and severe thunderstorms.

“As the provincial government, we are not under any illusion when it comes to the magnitude of the task that lies ahead of us as we respond to the needs of communities more especially during weather-related incidents. We acknowledge that we cannot do this alone. We cannot walk on this road alone and need a reliable partner who can walk with us in responding to the challenges that face our communities. This is why we value the work of the civil society in our communities. Without your involvement in disaster response and the fight against social ills, our work towards these objectives would not have the same impact” said Hlomuka.

KZN COGTAMEC HLOMUKA MOURNS PASSING OF TWO PHONGOLO COUNCILLORS

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Durban: KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Sipho Hlomuka has learned with shock and sadness of the tragic incident that has befallen the uPhongolo Local Municipality where two of its councillors lost their lives in a what is believed to have been a motor vehicle accident which took place this afternoon.

Reports that have been received by the department indicate that both councillors lost their life in the incident while three people, one of them a councillor, were injured and taken to hospital.

MEC Hlomuka has sent condolences to the families of the deceased councillors whose names are known to the department but will not be released since their next of kin might yet to be informed.

“The sudden loss of the two councillors leaves a deep void in the sphere of local government in the province. The deceased councillors were dedicated servants known for their commitment to the development of rural communities. As a department, we are deeply saddened and wish to express our sincere condolences to the affected families. We also wish those that are injured a speedy recovery” said Hlomuka.

The department will await guidance from the respective families on the funeral arrangements for the deceased.

KZN COGTA MEC HLOMUKA COMMENDS FIRE AND RESCUE RESPONDERS TO ENGEN REFINERY BLAZE

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Durban: KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Sipho Hlomuka has commended the Fire and Rescue teams which responded to the Engen oil refinery incident that took place on Friday morning. In this incident, six people from the plant and two from the community were injured when the plant caught fire.
Hlomuka yesterday visited the plant together with officials from the Provincial Disaster Management Centre. During the visit, Hlomuka toured the plant and the area where the incident occurred. Hlomuka also met with the management of the plant whose members briefed him on the steps that will now be followed in investigating the cause of the incident.
As part of the visit, Hlomuka visited the fire station based at the refinery where he met with the Chief Fire Officer Lenny Naidoo who recounted how things transpired on the day of the fire. In his address, Hlomuka thanked Naidoo for the work he and his team did in responding to the incident.
“The Fire and Rescue teams clearly prevented what could have been a total disaster for the people of Wentworth and the province as a whole. Their work is commendable and their dedication deserves our gratitude,” said Hlomuka.

KZN COGTA MEC HLOMUKA CONCERNED ABOUT VANDALISED WATER INFRASTRUCTURE IN INKOSI LANGALIBELELE MUNICIPALITY

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Wembezi, Estcourt: KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Sipho Hlomuka has expressed concern about vandalised water infrastructure in the Inkosi Langalibalele municipality. The damage caused by criminal syndicates has left large numbers of residents without access to water and the limited resources of this municipality have to be dipped into to repair the infrastructure.

This morning Hlomuka visited the Loskop Water Treatment Plant in the Inkosi Langalibalele municipality where he assessed the progress in the construction of the facility intended to replace the old treatment which will be decommissioned. The new plant will alleviate the plight of rural communities who have poor access to water as a result of the limited generating capacity of the old plant.

During the visit, Hlomuka received an update on the plant and the challenges it is facing. Chief amongst these is the theft of cables and the stripping of the plant which has impeded its functioning. The plant was vandalised twice in September by criminals who stole important cables. In both incidents cases were opened with the police. Hlomuka has pleaded with residents in the municipality to work with the law enforcement agencies by reporting those who are sabotaging critical government infrastructure.

As part of his oversight visit to the municipality, Hlomuka also met with all the councillors of the Inkosi Langalibalele municipality to address governance issues impacting this municipality which has been under administration in terms of Section 139(1)b of the Constitution since 2017.

The reasons that led the Provincial Government to place this municipality under administration included its deteriorating financial position which has called into question the long-term viability of the municipality. The municipality’s high vacancy rate within its management and its poor contract management were also contributing factors.

The municipality similarly had a debt of R138-million owed to Eskom. Since being placed under administration, some of these issues have been addressed, including the debt to Eskom which has since been reduced to R10-million and vacancies within the senior management, some of which have been filled.

In his meeting with the council, Hlomuka urged councillors to work closely with the Cogta-appointed administrator to address the deteriorating financial situation and to resolve some of the labour-related challenges that continue to plague the municipality.

‘COGTA IS PREPARED TO WORK WITH SCOPA TO MAKE THINGS RIGHT IN KZN MUNICIPALITIES’

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The active interest in the wellbeing of KZN municipalities on the part of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) is most welcome, even if the committee’s conclusion that our support to these municipalities does not inspire confidence is very unfair and unfortunate. The observations run in the face of various support initiatives that our department has implemented in line with our mandate of supporting and monitoring local government institutions.

 

The provincial Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), which I lead, made due representations to the committee, at very a short notice, with regards to several municipalities in distress and with reference to specific issues that had been identified by SCOPA in writing. In this regard documented information in terms of our support and our monitoring role in municipalities that were identified by SCOPA was elaboratory presented. It was our expectation that the engagements with SCOPA were to be in line with what they required of us to prepare and regrettably that was partly not the case.

 

SCOPA’s main concern is about COGTA’s alleged slow turnaround time in resolving some of the challenges that cripple our municipalities. In our defence, it is important to consider that despite our best efforts we are often constrained by municipalities’ status as an independent sphere of government which we should respect at all material times. It is our belief that this legal principle will also be appreciated by SCOPA.

 

It is also untrue that COGTA has shown ignorance of various curative legislative prescripts offered by the Constitution and the Municipal Systems Act to remedy some of the challenges faced by KZN’s municipalities. On the contrary, every one of our interventions has been strictly informed (and limited) by law. We have no appetite to act outside the law even at times of difficulty unlike in the previous dispensation where the doctrine of the supremacy of parliament was the case. After 1994 that situation changed and the supreme law of the Republic is the constitution. In all that we do we are guided by the supremacy of the constitution and we confine our activities in terms of the law and not at the whims of other functionaries.

 

Several of SCOPA’s observations are incorrect. While it is true that political instability has led to a state of uncertainty in uMkhanyakude District, for example, it is not true that its council last met in March 2020. Records will show that the council met thereafter and managed to even approve an annual budget before 30 June 2020.

 

It is true that the council has not considered reports on investigations into the municipality’s unauthorised, irregular, wasteful and fruitless expenditure, but COGTA has certainly done its homework by providing extensive technical support in this regard directly to uMkhanyakude’s Municipal Public Accounts Committee.

 

SCOPA has resolved that this council must convene within the next 14 days to catch up on all outstanding issues. The truth is that SCOPA does not have the power to order any municipal council to meet or prescribe what its councillors should discuss or approve when it does meet. It is in this context that there accession or a purported resolution on the above seems to fall outside the scope and ambit of the law.

 

SCOPA has instructed COGTA to indicate why it has not instituted Section 139 intervention in this municipality. Such interventions are in fact instituted by the Provincial Executive Council on in terms of the Constitution of the Republic.

 

With regards to Mpofana municipality which recently received an audit disclaimer, SCOPA is concerned about the lack of progress in instituting consequence management. COGTA does share these concerns and will work with the Municipality in ensuring that consequence management is implemented without fail.

 

SCOPA has rightly questioned the effectiveness of Section 139 intervention into this municipality, especially in light of its financial position. COGTA contends that legislation that would make such interventions more actionable is yet to be considered by Parliament and it hopes that SCOPA can fast-track this process.

 

SCOPA has been rightly irked by Mpofana’s decision to contract external and costly consultants for the preparation of its financial statements that in the end did not meet the requirements of the law. COGTA has already tasked its appointed administrator to investigate this matter and develop an action plan that will address the findings by the Auditor General.

 

SCOPA has called for tabling of an outstanding forensic report before the Richmond council to ensure consequence management against those implicated in it. COGTA had in fact commenced this process and will soon table the report once all internal processes at the municipality have been complied with.

 

At uMgungundlovu District, SCOPA has called on COGTA to conclude a forensic investigation into wrongdoing at this municipality.COGTA does appreciate the urgency and pledges to conclude this report as soon as possible. The department does its best to expedite such investigations as a rule.

 

At Nquthu, SCOPA has rightly complained about the municipality’s tendency to resort to costly litigation in the matter of appointment of senior managers and the appointment of the Mayor. COGTA itself has long criticised Nquthu’s intransigent attitude and advised the municipality to settle the matter out of court.

 

At Zululand District, SCOPA has voiced legitimate concerns around questionable financial management and alleged corruption. It must be noted that when COGTA itself investigated this municipality for maladministration, fraud and corruption, Zululand responded by taking the department to court.

 

It is quite clear from all of the above that COGTA has done its due diligence in respect of all reported challenges in the province’s municipalities and where its interventions have not yielded the desired results, the department has truly tested the limits of what it can legally do to improve the state of KZN’s municipalities.

 

To suggest that COGTA has been negligent in acting against misbehaving municipalities or ignorant of remedial actions afforded to it by the Constitution or local government legislation is simply incorrect. Going forward, COGTA is prepared to work with SCOPA to make things right.

Ends.

KZN COGTA MEC HLOMUKA TO VISIT INKOSI LANGALIBALELE MUNICIPALITY TO MONITOR SERVICE DELIVERY AND MEET WITH THE COUNCIL

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Durban: KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Sipho Hlomuka, as part of his ongoing municipal service delivery monitoring drive, will be visiting the Inkosi Langalibalele municipality on Thursday, 3 December 2020.

The meeting, which will comprise of all the councillors and management of the municipality, will provide an opportunity for Hlomuka to engage the municipality on various service delivery issues. During the meeting, the MEC will also receive a report on the consequence management measures being implemented in the municipality as a result of investigations that have been initiated. The municipality is part of those that are under section 139(1) b intervention.

During the visit, Hlomuka will also visit the Loskop water treatment plant where he will assess the state of this water scheme which provides water to hundreds of local residents. The plant which was recently commissioned has been vandalised by criminals on several occasions which had impacted on its functionality.

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

Date: Thursday, 3 December 2020

Time: 08:00 AM

Venue: Loskop Water Treatment Works

Second Part of Programme

Meeting with Inkosi Langalibalele Councillors

Venue: Wembezi Multi Purpose Hall, Inkosi Langalibalele Local Municipality

Time: 10:00 AM

Ends.

WORLD AIDS DAY COMMEMORATED IN THE HARRY GWALA DISTRICT

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Ixopo: The KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Sipho Hlomuka has called for residents in the Harry Gwala District to not turn a blind eye to the abuse of women and children within their communities. Hlomuka said these words this morning at the commemoration of World Aids Day event which took place at the Peace Initiative Hall in Ixopo under the uBuhlebezwe Municipality.

The event which was attended by the Mayor of the Harry Gwala District Cllr Nxumalo, the Mayor of uBuhlebezwe Cllr Ngubo and local Amakhosi remembered those that have lost their lives to HIV/AIDS through the lighting of candles.

In his remarks, MEC Hlomuka called upon residents to take their place in the protection of the rights of women and children as this is an issue that cannot be separated from the government’s fight to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS within our communities.

“Today we remember those that have passed away because of this virus, we also take this opportunity to take stock of the progress we have made as a country in the fight against this virus. Today it is possible to leave a normal life even thou you might have HIV/AIDS, this points to the progress that has been made by medicine and science” said Hlomuka.

The District which is home to some of the most rural municipalities in the province is at the forefront of the fight against Gender-Based Violence and the spread of HIV/AIDS extensive programme have been rolled out by the government to protect human life.

During the Commemorations the MEC and Mayors were joined by residents in a candle lighting ceremony.

KZNCOGTA MEC HLOMUKA PLACES DISASTER MANAGEMENT TEAMS ON ALERT ASSEVERE-THUNDERSTORMS EXPECTED ACROSS KZN

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Durban: KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Sipho Hlomuka has placed disaster management teams on high alert as severe-thunderstorms are expected to hit large parts of the province this afternoon going into the evening.

According to the weather report received from the South African Weather Service Severe thunderstorms are expected over the south-western parts and the midlands of the province this afternoon, drifting into the north-eastern parts in the evening.

Cogta MEC Sipho Hlomuka has warned residents of the dangers posed by the severe-thunderstorms which are expected to bring with them strong winds, hail and heavy downpours.

“We are appealing to residents in the areas that could be affected to exercise extreme caution as the weather conditions could deteriorate to dangerous levels. We are appealing for everyone to be vigilant as the expected heavy downpours could lead to localised flooding in low-lying areas and difficult driving conditions for motorists” said Hlomuka.

Disaster Management teams will be monitoring routes and areas that are prone to incidents very closely.

The areas that might be affected are: Abaqulusi, Alfred Duma – Indaka, Dr N. Dlamini-Zuma – Underberg, eDumbe, Endumeni, Greater Kokstad, Impendle, Inkosi Langalibalele-Escourt, Inkosi Langalibalele – Sobabili, Maphumulo, Mpofana – Giants Castle, Mpofana-Mooi River, Msinga, Mthonjaneni, Nkandla, Nongoma, Nquthu, Richmond, Msunduzi, Ubuhlebezwe, Ulundi, uMngeni, uMshwathi, Umvoti, Umzimkhulu, uPhongolo.

Residents are urged to avoid being on the road where possible and to refrain from crossing low-lying bridges.

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ILLEGAL ELECTRICITY CONNECTIONS KILL THREE CHILDREN IN PIETERMARITZBURG, KZN COGTA MEC HLOMUKA CALLS FOR ACTION

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KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Sipho Hlomuka has called for action to hold accountable those who are responsible for the illegal electricity connections that killed three children this afternoon at the Jika Joe informal settlement in Pietermaritzburg.

Hlomuka expressed his shock and sadness at this tragic incident which has led to the loss of three innocent lives. The MEC has also sent condolences to the families of the three children.

“This tragic incident takes place at a time when we have commenced with the 16 Days of Activism against the Abuse of Women and Children campaign. This campaign is aimed at protecting the rights of the most vulnerable within our communities. For our province to lose three children in this manner is heart-breaking and calls for a stand against the dangerous illegal electricity connections that continue to spread in our communities. Those who make and benefit from illegal electricity connections must be held accountable,” said Hlomuka.

Hlomuka has called on the Msunduzi municipality to investigate the circumstances surrounding this incident and hold to account those who are responsible for the illegal connections. He has also called upon the residents of Jika Joe to come forward with any information that might assist in apprehending those responsible for the spread of illegal connections.

KZN COGTA MEC HLOMUKA CONDEMNS ATTACK ON PROVINCIAL DISASTER MANAGEMENT CENTRE

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Pietermaritzburg: KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Sipho Hlomuka has condemned the attack on the Provincial Disaster Management Centre in Mkondeni, Pietermaritzburg.

This evening unknown assailants torched two vehicles at the centre which is home to the department’s disaster management officials. The attack is believed to be related to the unrest that occurred today in the Mkondeni area when residents in the Sacca informal settlement participated in a protest.

Hlomuka has condemned this blatant attack on the department and called for the speedy arrest of the culprits. “We are concerned about this act of cowardice where thousands of rand worth of government assets were destroyed by criminals. Acts such as this constitute treason and those responsible need to be held accountable. It is unacceptable that criminals can use service delivery protests as an excuse to damage state resources which are meant to assist the most vulnerable in our communities,” said Hlomuka.

As a result of this incident, the department has had to remove its vehicles from the centre to an undisclosed location to avert any further damages. “We are concerned about such incidents and are appealing to anyone that has information that could lead to the arrest of the culprits to come forward,” added Hlomuka.

As the province heads into the summer season which is a busy period for the Disaster Management Centre, the department will not allow the torching of the two vehicles to impact on its ability to respond to incidents.

In an unrelated incident in March last year, a section of the department’s offices in Mayville were burnt to the ground when unknown assailants petrol-bombed the premises.

Hlomuka has appealed to the law enforcement agencies to leave no stone unturned in their efforts to apprehend the people responsible for this shameful act.