KwaZulu-Natal municipalities will not achieve stability until the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) stops playing political games. The problem of instability extends beyond the eight councils that are under administration.
Cogta is tasked with providing continuous support to municipalities to prevent a situation where cabinet is forced to declare a need for intervention. However, this department has failed the local government sector to a point where some municipalities are constantly in and out of administration. One of these is Mooi River’s Mpofana, which has had more administrators than mayors in the past decade.
Even the province’s only metro, eThekwini, seems to be in need of the provincial government’s intervention in its financial management which is now starting to compromise service delivery.
In an ideal world, Cogta would be sending in a team to provide the relevant support before the city collapses.
In other parts of the province, such as the IFP-led uMkhanyakude and uMtubatuba, Cogta has now been accused of being a player instead of a referee in the political bickering between the ANC and IFP. Much like ants when elephants fight, the communities in that area continue to suffer as they have not had clean running water for years.
Meanwhile in Msunduzi, which also seems to be under perpetual administration, Cogta MEC Sipho Hlomuka on Tuesday told the parliamentary Cogta Select Committee that except for financial recovery and stability, “everything else has been resolved”.
He made this statement while many parts of Pietermaritzburg did not have electricity due to faults, while residents were waiting for tankers because they did not have water, and while motorists had to swerve across lanes to avoid the many potholes that have become synonymous with Maritzburg. Many have argued that things seem to have gone from bad to worse since Msunduzi was placed under administration in April 2019. Premier Sihle Zikalala owes it to the people of KZN to ensure they have an effective Cogta department, otherwise there will be even more reports of dysfunctional municipalities landing on his desk.
Maybe Hlomuka’s move to national government is his chance to get that department in order.