Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Minister Zweli Mkhize believes that having personnel with the right set of skills will help empower dysfunctional municipalities to make good on their responsibilities.
Mkhize was speaking on Monday at a media briefing on the progress of the Cogta ministry in developing a plan to address poor service delivery and infrastructure management, as part of a recovery programme for municipalities identified as distressed.
According to Mkhize, the ability of municipalities to operate independently, maintain infrastructure and deliver services is largely dependent on officials having the expertise to fulfil their responsibilities.
Mkhize also reiterated that many of the responsibilities demand “technical expertise and skills” in the field of civil engineering. This is why Cogta has deployed engineers and town planners — in the form of district technical support teams — to struggling municipalities nationwide.
“The situation in the country has been such that only 55 municipalities out of 257 had engineers leading their technical divisions.
“I made a commitment that Cogta would urgently support the 55 struggling municipalities to spend their infrastructure allocations,” Mkhize said.
Of the 82 deployees — nine are provincial managers (most of whom are engineers), 36 are civil engineers, 14 are electrical engineers, 16 are town and regional planners and seven are candidate civil engineers with experience in the field.
Addressing the technical team, Mkhize said: “You join us in the middle of an active programme of working to turn around the dysfunctional and distressed municipalities so that the lives of our people can improve.
“You have a huge responsibility to improve the management of key infrastructure especially in predominantly black residential areas where people are suffering from constant outages of electricity or breaking water pipes leading to no water… and indeed the building of new infrastructure altogether.”
The technical support programme will run until the end of April 2021.
In March, Mkhize announced that about 55 municipalities were identified as distressed or dysfunctional meaning that they could not provide basic service delivery, manage their finances and administration as well as provide and maintain infrastructure in communities.
Read Minister Mkhize’s speech in full below: