Senior journalist
4 minute read

Msunduzi missing out on grants

By Chris Ndaliso

Cogta intervention blamed for lack of funding available to stabilise the municipality.

Pietermaritzburg City Hall
Pietermaritzburg City Hall.

The Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) intervention in Msunduzi Municipality is costing the city millions of rands in grant funding, city manager Lulamile Mapholoba told the council on Wednesday.

Mapholoba was reacting to the ministerial representative Martin Sithole’s progress report, which he presented to the council.

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The report, dated October 24, pointed to a number of triggers that are yet to be resolved according to Cogta’s directive. Triggers are the reasons why Msunduzi was put under administration.

Mapholoba said the status has deprived the city of a number of opportunities for grant funding from funders, including the national Treasury. The grants include the Integrated Urban Development Grant (IUDG), which is meant to provide funding for public investment in infrastructure for the poor, among other things. Municipalities must meet certain set qualification criteria to receive this grant.

Level 2 Human Settlements accreditation ensures that the city receives funds for human settlements directly from the national level.

I must tell this council, this intervention is costing us. It is costing us millions and millions of funds. Yesterday [Wednesday] [Atkins Khoali, acting deputy manager for sustainable development] was in a meeting for the Level 2 accreditation for human settlements. We’re supposed to be receiving billions of rands in terms of building houses.

“You know what? We can’t get the funds because of this intervention. We are supposed to be receiving a very top grant, the IUDG. You know why we’re not getting it? It’s because of the intervention.

“So it is costing this municipality a lot. We are losing. People want to give us funding but everybody backs off because of this intervention.

“So, for me, keeping this municipality [under administration means] the people who suffer are the residents in the end; not us, but the residents who were supposed to be getting these benefits for development,” said Mapholoba.

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Sithole’s report acknowledged the efforts to stabilise the municipality, especially in terms of revenue collection, but felt that the progress was not satisfactory.

Sithole directed his first shot at the office of the Speaker, where the war committees are monitored. He said the “non-functionality” of these committees was a serious matter. He further warned against the delay in the appointment of certain senior officials, such as the head of electricity, and the slow pace in implementing consequence management measures.

“In September 2022, there were 50 cases (to be dealt with). We have closed about 16 of these cases, and that’s not even 50% of the cases. The reason why I’m raising this is for us to ask ourselves why those have not been closed.

“Another issue is the finances. It is a bitter one to swallow but we need to start zooming in to wards and collect the revenue. I am convinced that the systems that are being implemented can have positive outcomes,” said Sithole.

Mapholoba pointed to the complexity of dealing with mismanagement, appointments, and consequence management, stating that the city was dealing with cases.

“We know where the challenges are. Consequence management is a moving target. We charge employees but disciplining them is a process. Council must appreciate that we’re at a level where there is no culture [of ethics].

In one story, a municipal employee takes R13 000 of council money home and then she/he reports the following morning that the money is gone. We have suspended that official and we are going to make sure that the money is paid back and the employee is punished. We have an employee who is in jail, is incarcerated but two shop stewards want this person to be paid and I said no, we can’t pay someone who is incarcerated.

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IFP councilor Thinasonke Ntombela concurred with Sithole that work was being done to deal with the city’s ills, but added that the progress was slow.

“It would probably assist if the ministerial representative [Sithole] could simply tell us who the stumbling blocks are in getting the municipality back on track.”

DA councillor Ross Strachan said he did not believe that the intervention had any impact in dealing with political interference.

He said the city will not recover if consequence management is implemented selectively.

The ACDP’s Rienus Niemand said the key in dealing with revenue collection was to go into wards for inspections and assessments so that all the transgressors are identified.

ANC chief whip in Msunduzi, Sandile Dlamini reminded councillors that Msunduzi’s financial woes did not start on Wednesday. He warned councillors against painting a picture that residents of certain areas are treated differently from others.