South Africa: Help for Emadlangeni Municipality to Get Its House in Order

KwaZulu-Natal Treasury and Co-Operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) have committed to step up efforts to assist Emadlangeni Local Municipality with its financial and governance challenges.

This comes after last week's Provincial Executive Council special meeting, where the Council took a decision that the departments continue to reinforce support to the municipality by increasing their efforts to resolve municipal challenges.

Finance MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube and COGTA MEC Sipho Hlomuka held a meeting with the council of Utrecht-based Emadlangeni Local Municipality in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday to communicate last week's Council meeting decisions.

The municipality has been confronted with serious governance, financial and service delivery challenges, including its failure to convene successfully and legally to pass and approve its annual budgets.

This is despite protracted efforts by both COGTA and Treasury to assist the municipality to resolve its financial and administrative challenges, in line with the prescripts of the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) and the Municipal Structures Act.

Dube-Ncube said the provincial government has a constitutional obligation and duty to assist Emadlangeni, one of three municipalities under AmaJuba District Municipality.

"The municipality is already under administration but we now have to strengthen that intervention. We will also be appointing financial experts so that we can help them to at least pass an interim budget to allow the municipality to operate. We are prepared to support them and ensure they succeed in closing this chapter," said Dube-Ncube.

Both Dube-Ncube and Hlomuka expressed regret at the decision of the municipality to pay salaries without the approval and authorisation of KZN Treasury.

Dube-Ncube warned that such an illegal decision is viewed as a serious breach, and "corrective measures will have to be implemented urgently".

The municipality used funds to pay salaries of the staff and councillors, thus violating sections of the MFMA.

"The municipality spent money it didn't have, instead of seeking guidance, approval and authorisation from KZN Treasury. This has left us with no choice but to institute an investigation, open a case and devise measures to recoup this money," Dube-Ncube said.

Hlomuka appealed to councillors to adhere to the rule of law.

"There are always consequences and serious implications when the law is broken. Having said that, I must reiterate that we shall continue to support the municipality with everything we have without prejudice and regardless of political allegiance, but we will deal with the issue on a governance basis," Hlomuka said.

Emadlangeni councillors committed to working with the provincial government for a lasting solution to the challenges in the municipality.

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