KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Sipho Hlomuka has urged the province’s 54 municipalities during the department’s virtual Munimec meeting to plan for a post-lockdown recovery in their respective jurisdictions to ensure that the lives of residents and business return to normalcy as soon as possible once the current restrictions have been lifted.
“Before we look to the future, we must first acknowledge that as local government stakeholders we have also achieved, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, that our municipalities have continued to function and that basic services have been delivered to our communities whose welfare depends on the regular provision of water, electricity, refuse removal and the like,” said Hlomuka.
At the same time, Hlomuka acknowledged that keeping the water taps and electricity meters running the lockdown did not come without a hefty price. The general economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been felt by our municipalities with a resultant non-payment factor given the financial distress felt by communities and businesses. The revenue impact on municipalities has been significant.
Nowhere else is this more evident than in the province’s economic hubs namely eThekwini, Msunduzi and City of Mhlathuze where revenue collection through services such water, electricity, and rates are under pressure.
“In order to ensure uninterrupted supply of water in particular and electricity going forward, our municipalities need to revive their revenue collection and to do that, they need to do everything in their power to stimulate their local economies for the benefit of residents and businesses. To achieve this, we need far-reaching and wide-ranging plans a post-Covid-19 era of socio-economic recovery” said Hlomuka.
Today’s virtual Munimec meeting was designed to reflect upon the latest developments and emerging key policy matters impacting on governance and effective service delivery in KZN’s municipalities as the province continues to fight the spread of Covid-19 in its communities and as it begins to look beyond the current measures towards a Covid-19-free future in the sphere of local government.
“Our state of readiness for the Covid-19 free province must include well-functioning municipalities with a strong political and administrative leadership, characterised by stability. This implies functional councils and oversight structures, a consistent spending of capital budgets with no monies returned to the national fiscus, clean audits and sound financial management of our public funds,” said Hlomuka.
Today’s Munimec agenda covered a wide variety of topical issues, from the Local Government Post-Lockdown Recovery Plan to policy items, such as job creation through EPWP, to long-term planning issues, such as the Provincial Master Plan. Munimec’s focus was also be on practical initiatives such as Action plans towards clean audits or the newly launched District Development Model.