National Council of Provinces (NCOP) Chief Whip Mr Seiso Mohai has called on provincial and local government leaders in the Free State to resolve the debilitating conflicts that are hampering service delivery in the province.
Chief Whip Mohai made the call when addressing the last day of the week-long NCOP Provincial Week programme held in the Free State from 27 to 30 October, on the theme: "Ensuring capable and financially sound local government".
"It is extremely worrying that, as opposed to forging co-operation between the provincial and local government to accelerate service delivery, the relationship has become riddled by debilitating conflict. A case in point is Metsimaholo as reported by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs over the last three days. The persistent non-cooperation between the provincial government and the municipality is a reflection of deep leadership failures," said Mr Mohai.
Permanent delegates to the NCOP, accompanied by their Free State Legislature counterparts led by the Deputy Speaker Ms Lucy Mapena, met with political and administrative representatives of Mangaung Metro, Matjhabeng, Maluti-A-Phofung and Metsimaholo Local Municipalities to assess interventions to improve financial state, governance challenges and the state of service delivery.
Municipalities across the province are facing the following key intersecting challenges: poor political and administrative leadership; poor planning and lack of nexus between the integrated development plans and budgets; poor governance and uncoordinated political oversight; poor financial planning, controls and accountability; poor revenue and credit controls; poor supply chain management; disregard for audit outcomes and recommendations; and the persistent debt to Eskom and water boards.
"Among the key manifestations of the declining state of local government in the Free State is the high number of municipalities placed under administration, some being placed under administration for over two years without any prospects of recovery. This brings into sharp focus the fundamental question: whether the section 139 interventions were based on sound imperatives and whether they have assisted?" said Mr Mohai, adding that one feature that characterises the decline of municipalities is the persistently high levels of municipal debt to Eskom and the water boards.
"This problem has and continues to inflict untold suffering to our people, as they are from time to time subjected to electricity and water cuts which are basic human rights. The attention to this problem should therefore be one of the strategic priorities," said Mr Mohai.
This year's Provincial Week was a follow up on discussions held during the NCOP Local Government Week, from September 8 to 11, which also focused on ensuring capable and financially sound local government. Provincial Week is one of the NCOP's high-level strategic flagship programmes to deepen the integration and cooperation between the three spheres of our government.
"At the core of the NCOP Provincial Week programme is a conscious interface with provincial and local government to monitor the quality of work discharged at this level of government. This is necessary to ensure the people of South Africa get services to which they are entitled in terms of the Constitution," concluded Mr Mohai.