Oscar takes Eastern Cape councils to task
Finance MEC Oscar Mabuyane has cracked the whip at 16 dysfunctional municipalities that distorted budgets during the 2018/19 financial year.
Mabuyane painted a bleak picture of the province’s local government sphere, calling it a ticking time bomb.
At least 16 mayors, municipal managers and their CFOs were summoned to a meeting at the Good News Christian Church in Bhisho by treasury after adopting unfunded budgets with a net deficit of R873m and underspending on infrastructure grants to the tune of R219m.
“We picked up last year that municipalities passed budgets that were unfunded. They distorted the money that they don’t have and created an impression that they can raise this money on their revenue generation when they know that actually collapses the IDP because they have a distorted IDP. “People expect water because they have raised that [expectation] and they create an impression that they do and they don’t,” Mabuyane said.
Speaking on the sidelines of an engagement session with the bosses of the 16 municipalities, Mabuyane said the councils had undermined the law with negative bearings on the functionality of treasury.
“If we cannot fix the local government sphere, the dysfunctionality, we are really sitting on a ticking time bomb. The local government sphere is the closest to the cream,” he told municipal heads.
Reprimanding those in attendance, he said treasury was at a point where compliance would be enforced with consequence management no longer lip service.
“We are going to make local government functional and that is not negotiable. Treasury is going to up the game.
“We are going to have forums of mayors and MECs on the direct implementation of Municipal Finance Management Act and Public Finance Management Act. We are not going to use administration to fix political problems.”
Several municipalities have been red-flagged by provincial treasury for underspending on infrastructural grants. These include Beyers Naude, Raymond Mhlaba, Enoch Mgijima, Walter Sisulu, Sakhisizwe, Mnquma, Ngqushwa, King Sabata Dalindyebo, Chris Hani, Makana, Blue Crane, Inxuba, Port St Johns and Great Kei.
“We can’t be having five municipalities improving out of 23. The only way to silence local government protest is to be with the people. Treasury in the Eastern Cape is going to be on your doorsteps. We are taking away micro management and interference.”
He added that it was difficult to argue for municipalities at national Treasury for equitable share “when we don’t spend on conditional grants”.
The MEC said district municipalities that were expected to help with shared services were found wanting.
“We need to correct this thing because the municipalities are the closest sphere of government to the people.
“If at that ward level there is no proper co-ordination, no correct IDP, no correct service delivery implementation plans there is something not right.
“We are trying to address it and just draw the line.”..