KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Sipho Hlomuka today led a webinar on government’s response to Covid-19 with a particular reference to the province’s municipalities. The panellists also included provincial Salga chairperson Cllr Nonhle Mkhulusi and Cogta’s in-house local government experts. The session was facilitated by Ms B. Mgutshini who is the Deputy Director-General for Development and Planning.
“Deliberating on topical issues within the sphere of local government is what we do at Cogta as part of policy-making and responsive service delivery but deliberating on such issues in a webinar is a reflection upon the new normal. We are now living in a Covid-19 world and we have had to adapt to the new circumstances,” said Hlomuka.
The panellists made presentations on a range of municipal issues they have had to respond to in connection with Covid-19 in their fields of expertise. Cllr Mkhulisi talked about the role of councillors in a Covid-19 world that has been characterised by restrictions on physical engagements but also by an undiminished demand for the delivery of basic services by municipalities.
Cogta’s local government expert Sicelo Duma who is currently serving as administrator at Msunduzi drew on his experience in ensuring that municipalities improve oversight of their functions in a Covid-19 world as councillors work in a challenging environment where limits on physical meetings and interactions are imposed by the authorities.
The second local government expert from Cogta, Joey Krishnan, referred to her expertise in municipal finance to talk about the financial impact of Covid-19 on municipalities and the need to enhance revenue collection at a time when the government-imposed restrictions on economic activity and freedom of movement have resulted in major revenue shortfalls.
Hlomuka summarised government’s efforts in adjusting public sector’s operations to the new normal by limiting physical meetings and sensitising communities to the implications of the declaration of state of disaster, which included the national lockdown from 27 March. He also reflected on the work of the Provincial Covid-19 Command Council in the fight against Covid-19.
Hlomuka also emphasised Cogta’s efforts in formulating plans to support the recovery of local government post-lockdown, which is based on five pillars, namely, governance, finance, basic service delivery, performance management and the newly launched District Development Model. His department has engaged with municipalities to develop their own Post-Lockdown Recovery Plans.
The webinar is archived on YouTube and can viewed on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bE6HqYkdmuw