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Municipalities get back to basics

Written by Stephen Timm

Local government

The Back to Basics programme is positively impacting a number of municipalities across the country.

A key government intervention – kicked off over two years ago to assist struggling municipalities – is beginning to yield results.

The Back to Basics Programme, launched by the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) in September 2014, aims to tackle various local government challenges. These include political and administrative instability, poor maintenance and low community participation.

National government provides real-time monitoring of key indicators, funding and capacity building and intervenes in civil claims or asset forfeiture.

The programme is beginning to produce results in two Eastern Cape municipalities – the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro Municipality and the Sundays River Valley Municipality.

In June, Cogta Minister Des Van Rooyen said the Auditor General’s report showed that the department’s Back to Basics and Operation Clean Audit interventions over the past few years are beginning to show results.

In 2010/11, only 16 municipalities and entities received unqualified audits with no findings. This has since increased to 72 municipalities and entities. The number of municipalities receiving disclaimers and adverse opinions decreased from 102 in 2010/11 to 43.

A national audit outcomes response plan has been developed to guide provinces and municipalities on the focus areas and quarterly deliverables in response to audit outcomes.

As of June, 2 665 disciplinary and dismissal cases have been captured on the database of dismissed staff, and staff who resigned prior to the finalisation of disciplinary proceedings.

This database stores information about disciplinary proceedings and enables municipalities to “blacklist” staff members who have been dismissed for misconduct.

In his budget vote address in May, Minister Van Rooyen said plans are in place to increase public participation through ward-based service delivery dashboards and ward improvement plans to, for example, fix street lights timeously, cut grass and attend to water leaks.

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