Progress in the Abaqulusi Municipality: briefing

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Meeting report

SELECT COMMITTEE ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND ADMINISTRATION

SELECT COMMITTEE ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND ADMINISTRATION
10 March 2006
PROGRESS IN THE ABAQULUSI MUNICIPALITY: BRIEFING

Chairperson:
Mr S Shiceka (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Report on the visit to Abaqulusi Local Municipality (21 November 2006)
Report for NCOP (National Council of Provinces) select Committee on Local Government and Administration on Abaqulusi Municipality
[please email
docs@pmg.org.za for documents]

SUMMARY
The Committee discussed the Abaqulusi Municipality, which formed part of KwaZulu-Natal, and considered its accomplishments and budget spending.

MINUTES
The chairperson apologised for absent committee members. He introduced Abaqulusi Municipality Administrator, Mr Haswell (ANC) who was representing the Abaqulusi Municipality to report on events of the previous few months.

Mr R Haswell said that the municipality had accomplished positive report. The budget formulation had taken place in January and February and had presented a clear indication of key focuses. The municipality was currently in a situation where it did not have a council as the new council had only been recently elected. The new council would have to look at the budget and the Integrated Development Plan (IDP). The municipality needed to pass the budget by the end of May and have it approved, as well as begin service delivery, for the new financial year commencing on 1 July 2006. The municipality had therefore been trying to build a platform for its work.

Mr Haswell stated that the municipality needed to engage with communities to improve lines of communication. During the months of November and December, he had invited all communities and stockholders to meet with the Administrator on a one to one basis to avoid public disruptions. The Municipality held two of the best and most positive and encouraging community meetings in Bhekuzulu and Mondlo, which the manager had described as ‘mile stones’.

Mr Haswell remarked on the positive attitude and the eagerness of the members of community to attend the meetings and their generally positive response to them, which indicated a re-establishment of a bond between communities and municipalities. He hoped that the new council would be able to accept this new environment. At those meetings the municipality had reported back to the community on their achievements in terms of helping the community in the Mondlo area, such as the fixing of street lights and roads. The meetings had also helped to identify other priorities for the community and the municipality had been able to receive feedback from the community.

The municipality had managed to have a very successful meeting in terms of the IDP and budget. It had met with business and all political parties other than the IFP and had had a successful meeting with the Ward Committees. Mr Haswell stressed the importance of stakeholder consultation when deciding on the budget as this was a legal requirement in terms of the IDP legislation. The Municipality had tried to empower stockholders, and had emphasized the need for them to be involved not in terms of their political affiliation, but rather as stakeholders in the IDP. It has also been stressed that their input was extremely valuable and was required by legislation.






Regarding the budget, Mr Haswell stated that Abaqulusi had been funding their Capital Budget from their reserves during the previous few years. If this attitude was not changed, the municipality would face bankruptcy within the next five years. The next capital budget must be funded without having to touch on the reserves. Another issue would be for the Municipality to start thinking developmentally in terms of attracting the investment into the Abaqulusi area and eMondlo. As far as the half year performance report was concerned, in terms of expenditure and income at Abaqulusi, there had been no problem thus far. The staff had kept the municipality running satisfactorily.

On local issues, Mr Haswell mentioned that it had been a wonderful experience being an Administrator in terms of helping the communities and making quick decision. The Administrator had encouraged people to vote in the elections. The municipality had a role to play and, as a committee, they did not want to see Abaqulusi remain the way it had been in the past, but instead to see progress. Municipality government had to be put back on track and everything was being done within local government to offer services to help the community.

Discussion
The chairperson remarked on the positive results and good work that had been done in Abaqulusi and commented on the positive attitude of Mr Haswell, working as the Administrator in the Municipality and helping the communities in KwaZulu-Natal.

Mr Z Ntuli (ANC) congratulated the Administrator on the work done, but stated that he found it a bit disturbing that same councilors had been retained by their political parties. He advised on the use of the Equitable Share and the Reserves Capital Budget. He commented that certain (ward) committees had not been properly constituted, and gave advice on educating the communities on how to form certain committees.

Mr N Mack (ANC), was concerned that the IFP had not attended the political report. He advised that problems would arise if they failed to attend as they were the majority party in KwaZulu-Natal. He asked if there was a way to assist the municipal manager to see that good governance was put in place.

Mr K Mokoena (ANC) mentioned that the budget must not be in reserves. He queried the limit placed on the R5 million budget allocation (page 3 of report).

Mr Haswell responded, on the ward committee issue, that they (the IFP) had approximately half of the ward committees and that problems had arisen. The IFP ward had experienced problems in ward committees on responding to the municipality’s requests for meetings. There were a few IFP members who came as business members instead of political party members. There was a lot of work that needed to be done in the ward committees. On the issue of the R5 million budget, he said that the figure was based on what the municipality was able to borrow, and that they should not borrow more than R5 million. The R5 million would put the "redemption" on 12% and not more than 15%.

The meeting was adjourned.

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