Parliament, Tuesday, 13 September 2022 - The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) Chairperson, Mr Amos Masondo, has lauded the Municipal Systems Act as a legal weapon to professionalize the municipal sector.

He said the set procedures and criteria for the appointment of municipal officials prescribed in the act empowers municipalities to meet their constitutional mandate of service delivery outcomes and bring about a new chapter of development.

Mr Masondo delivered an opening address at the two-day Local Government Week 2022 held at the Lagoon Beach hotel in Cape Town on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Mr Masondo underscored the failure of municipalities to acquire the necessary capacity to function optimally as a breach of their constitutional mandates. He called on local government practitioners to put all the stops to ensure that the local sphere of government receives the required support and has the capacity to carry out its functions.

He said the support given to municipalities must include the empowerment of the people to help influence and ensure the kind of development they would like to see in their respective communities.

The Local Government Week, hosted by the NCOP in partnership with the South African Local Government Association, was launched in 2012. Mr Masondo says the event is a space for interactive and thought-provoking deliberations with solutions and clear actions to strengthen local government.

He said the programme is intended to provide a platform for sharing experiences and best practices and is an opportunity for national reflection on issues affecting local government. The overall mission was to deliberate on the ways and means to improve the lives of the people by taking the appropriate steps to strengthen local governance to enhance service delivery.

He also conceded that, with the benefit of hindsight, in designing the local government structures certain assumptions were made which ought to be revisited. These include, for example, the assumption that municipalities would have the capacity to raise revenue to fund their services.

He said: “We know now that some of our municipalities do not have a meaningful revenue base. That some have no tax base at all. Yet, they still need resources to fulfil their constitutional responsibilities towards citizens, irrespective of the circumstances”.

However, he agreed that the audit regressions recorded by the Auditor-General’s report in 61 municipalities are telling of the capacity and accountability challenges that municipalities are faced with in upholding expected service standards prescribed in the Constitution.

He further highlighted the continued support that Parliament gives to municipalities through various committee activities, among them the Provincial Week, which was held in April this year under the theme Assessing the State Capacity to Respond to the Needs of Communities.

Delivering the keynote address, the Minster of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Ms Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, appealed for policy coherence, that included joint planning, monitoring and evaluation by all the three spheres of government for the advancement of the developmental agenda of the country.

She said the District Development Model (DDM), seeks to achieve policy coherence as it helps municipalities comply with legislation and further aims to professionalise the sector. She said the DDM seeks to ensure professionals occupying strategic positions in this sphere of government have requisite skills in ongoing policy and legislative consideration. The DDM also seeks to meet the corporate needs of municipalities and high-level standards of service delivery.

According to Minister Dlamini-Zuma, in many municipalities, the government is the biggest source of jobs, economic opportunities, and any prospect of upward social mobility for our people. She said the only means by which we can realise common prosperity is by having a strong and vibrant economy in each local area that harnesses the local endowments for its residents.

She contended that collective oversight and accountability through the local sphere of government can bear the desired impact when the oversight is cross-sectional.

The programme continues on Wednesday with the NCOP House Chairperson, Mr Jomo Nyambi, Secretary to Parliament, Mr Xolile George, and a number of MECs among the speakers and panellists on a range of topics. The programme will resume at 10 am.

Enquiries: Moloto Mothapo