As the province marks two decades of democratic local government since its formation in 2000 and as it emerges from the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, KZN Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) is tabling its annual 2021/2022 budget which is geared both towards post-Covid-19 municipal recovery and a local government that works better for the general public.
“Since 2000 when the current model of local government was established, we have created municipal structures which serve our ever more discerning communities. Their achievements on the ground are sometimes marred by shortcomings which we, as a department that oversees local government, take very seriously and attend to speedily,” said KZN MEC for Cogta Sipho Hlomuka.
The effects of Covid-19 on the municipal economies in KZN have been devastating. With municipalities being the primary sites of economic activity at local level, it is key that they be adequately equipped to assist in the revival of the post-Covid-19 economy. To bolster the municipal recovery plans KZN Cogta helped to develop during the height of the pandemic, it will now focus on their implementation.
“Service delivery is dependent on the ability of municipalities to collect revenue. The pandemic has severely disrupted the pace in our offensive to enhance revenue collection in municipalities. In 2021/2022, we will pursue a targeted approach to revenue collection that aims to reduce both government and consumer debt in municipalities,” said Hlomuka.
In 2021/2022, KZN Cogta will further decentralise support to municipalities through the deployment of dedicated local government specialists in each of the province’s 10 districts and the metro. This will improve coordination and facilitate the resolution of service delivery issues on the ground where it matters most, particularly as KZN approaches the 2021 Local Government Elections.
“We will be supporting municipalities in dealing with unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure. This will involve strengthening internal controls as well as hands-on support to municipal procurement officials. In respect of such expenditure already incurred, we will support municipalities in implementing the necessary consequence management,” said Hlomuka.
In 2021/2022, KZN Cogta’s focus will be on consolidating the newly established District Development Model in municipalities. The new approach seeks to centralise planning, budgeting and implementation of local economic development and infrastructure projects at a district level with the active participation of other spheres of government and other stakeholders.
“We will also implement the water interventions envisioned in the KZN Provincial Water Master Plan. This will improve the general access to water for both communities and businesses. We will support municipalities in improving their water services in line with the ward profiles produced in the Provincial Water Master Plan,” said Hlomuka.
Having successfully completed the KZN Provincial Water Master Plan, KZN Cogta will facilitate the development of the KZN Provincial Energy Master Plan. It will focus on universal access to electricity and alternative energy and asset management frameworks. Specifically, the plan will address the ongoing need to support municipalities with operations and maintenance of energy infrastructure.
“While our response to the Tropical Cyclone Eloise demonstrated that we have improved in our ability to manage disasters, a significant amount of work remains to be done to further limit the number of fatalities. In 2021/2022, all municipalities will be supported with the development of Disaster Management Policy Frameworks to deal more effectively with natural disasters,” said Hlomuka.