Tender system failed: Mbalula acknowledges crisis, urges reform

Mbalula acknowledged the negative impact the tender system has on local government, leading to corruption and poor service delivery.

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula has admitted the tender system has weakened local government because it forces municipalities to outsource everything and has led to corruption, patronage and poor service.

Speaking at the ANC’s Local Government Interventions Workshop yesterday that looked at issues concerning municipalities and coalitions, Mbalula said the tender system has weakened the capability of local governments because they don’t have the skills to manage contracts.

Mbalula on tender system

“As we have sought to pursue broad-based black economic empowerment, as we must, the tender system has weakened local government because we have outsourced everything.

“It has led to corruption and patronage and poor services,” he said. “We need to consider insourcing the essential functions of the municipality so we attract young people with skills.

“This situation has contributed to declining voter participation in elections and a dramatic decline in support for the ANC.

Government ‘severely weakened’

“This resulted in the loss of several key municipalities and the emergence of coalition governments in several places.

“Our experience since then has demonstrated that coalition governments are incapable of effectively driving development, providing quality services, or ensuring proper accountability.”

Mbalula also admitted that local government was in a severely weakened state and many municipalities were struggling to provide the most basic of services.

He said few municipalities were able to perform the transformational function that people expect of them.

“That is not only an indictment of the leadership of those municipalities, it is also an indictment of the ANC, which is the governing party in most councils,” he said.

Municipal crisis

“The financial crisis in municipalities is part of a far broader crisis of governance, operational performance and legitimacy.”

He said the party also needed to consider councillor selection criteria.

“It is a concern that many councillors who were elected in 2021 were new to the role, and that there is such a frequent turnover of senior management in councils.

“This has resulted in a loss of skills, experience and institutional memory.

“One of the key problems in local government is human capital.

“We need to prioritise the selection of skilled and knowledgeable political leaders and senior management who are suited to the tasks at hand.”