Enhancing Accountability and Quality Service Delivery in South African Municipalities

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south african municipalities accountability

The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Thembi Nkadimeng, has recently expressed her support and appreciation for the 2021/22 audit reports released by the Auditor General of South Africa (AGSA) on 31 May 2023. The audit reports provide valuable insights into the performance of individual municipalities across the country under the theme of “A culture of accountability will improve service delivery.”

The Importance of Continuous Improvement in Governance

According to Minister Nkadimeng, continuous improvement in governance remains a top priority. She highlighted the importance of financial management, performance management, infrastructure, service delivery, and compliance with local government legislation. The audit outcomes serve as a crucial barometer of transparency and accountability for taxpayers, the public sector, investors, and citizens participating in South Africa’s democracy.

Progress and Concerns

While acknowledging the improvements recorded in some municipalities, the Minister expressed serious concerns about those that have regressed or failed to show progress. However, significant improvements were observed in the Eastern Cape and Kwazulu-Natal provinces. These advancements align with the Department’s reports on the State of Local Government and the development of Municipal Support and Intervention Plans (MSIPs) in collaboration with sector departments, SALGA, provinces, and municipalities.

Post-Audit Support Interventions

In response to the audit outcomes, Minister Nkadimeng has called for prioritizing post-audit support interventions. She has committed to working with MECs of local government to help municipalities address the issues raised by the AG. The Department of Cooperative Governance will implement various initiatives to ensure a multi-stakeholder approach with clear roles and responsibilities in supporting local government.

Initiatives to Promote Professionalization and Ethics

Among these initiatives, the Ministry has launched the Local Government Anti-Corruption Forum and the Local Government Ethical Leadership Institute. Additionally, regulations on the Code of Conduct for Councillors will soon be enacted to address instability within municipal councils and ensure accountability and consequences for undesirable behavior.

Consequence Management and Collaborative Efforts

Lack of consequence management remains a challenge. To address this, the Department will work with MPACs to ensure proper governance and understanding of legislative responsibilities through capacity-building initiatives. Collaborating with strategic partners, they will also work to encourage functional disciplinary boards within municipalities.

Strengthening Functionality of Coalition Governments and Revenue Management

The Department is developing a framework, supported by legislative reform, to strengthen the functionality of coalition governments and bring about stability. The financial health and overall sustainability of municipalities depend on effective revenue management, an area that the Department has recognized as a constant challenge.

Maximizing Revenue Potential and Records Management

To maximize revenue potential, the Department has initiated a project on data management to support municipalities in data purification. The project will ensure correct data is available to inform accurate billing and customer tariff application. The Department has also begun a records management project to develop and strengthen records management practices. This support is expected to help municipalities improve their audit outcomes in subsequent cycles and reduce the number of disclaimed opinions.

Emphasis on Intergovernmental Relations and Citizen Engagement

As the country moves towards a more functional and integrated government through the District Development Model (DDM), the emphasis on intergovernmental relations and citizen engagement becomes critical. Minister Nkadimeng’s call to all stakeholders, including elected political leaders, to work towards performance, integrity, transparency, and accountability, serves as a rallying cry to make “Local Government everybody’s business.”

A Russian-Spanish journalist and Cape Town native, channels his lifelong passion for South Africa into captivating stories for his local blog. With a diverse background and 50 years of rich experiences, Serjio's unique voice resonates with readers seeking to explore Cape Town's vibrant culture. His love for the city shines through in every piece, making Serjio the go-to source for the latest in South African adventures.

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