R81bn is owed to municipalities, says Salga

"It moves [changes] every year and the interest factor affects it," South African Local Government Association (Salga) chief executive Xolile George told reporters in Midrand on Tuesday. Salga is an autonomous association of municipalities.

"It is growing exponentially and measures are being put in place."

He said there were disputes relating to money owed and some were complicated. In some disputes there had been resolutions.

"When there is no dispute, the money must be paid," said George.

Unemployment and retrenchments were a problem, said Salga, as some people could not pay for services because they did not have enough money. "It is huge, and it is a concern," said George.

Salga's deputy chair Mpho Nawa said local government had been under attack for service delivery, and that Salga had developed a strategy platform for development.

It was hoped the platform would help drive policy and make assessments.

Reshaping human resources
Salga's municipal executive director Rio Nolutshungu said the strategy – presented before delegates at a two-day meeting at Gallagher Convention Centre – was intended to help municipalities make better use of human capital.

He said it needed professionals and a state which was responsive and customer-friendly.

Nolutshungu said human resources management played a smaller role in local government than in other sectors, but that Salga intended placing it at the forefront to enable more effective municipalities.

Salga said it intended mobilising a database of cadres in human resources to deploy at short notice.

This was to reshape human resources for the betterment of institutions.

Dealing with corruption
Salga said it was considering expanding public accounts committees at municipalities to monitor under-performance and conduct.

George said he wanted to create a culture of dealing with corruption in municipalities.

Salga also wanted to ensure the retention of staff by giving allowances to those with scarce skills, and by hiring graduates and interns.

"We need to position local government as a career of choice," he said.

Salga envisaged a local government academy which would be placed at the disposal of municipalities to co-ordinate capacity building. – Sapa

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