The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called on KwaZulu-Natal’s (KZN) CoGTA Department, led by MEC, Sipho Hlomuka, to publically commit to an urgent skills audit of senior officials within the province’s municipalities, failing which, the DA will call for individuals to be subpoenaed to appear before the province’s CoGTA portfolio committee.
The move follows the recent revelation that uMngeni Municipal Manager, Thembeka Cibane, was appointed despite failing a pre-employment test. According to a media report, an assessment by a top HR company on behalf of the Department saw Chibane fail 12 out of 15 assessment categories, ranging from planning to financial management.
The DA in uMngeni has previously questioned Cibane’s suitability for the top post and the question remains – why was she employed? Despite the latest revelation, there also appears to be a lack of accountability both by the municipality and the Department, with no official response on the matter to date.
The issue of officials not being fit for senior management certainly does not end in uMngeni. Recently, the DA in the KZN Legislature was part of a joint oversight of municipalities conducted in the Zululand District by the National Council of Provinces. The visits exposed that these municipalities are in a shambolic state with mismanagement, a lack of planning and disorganisation by unprepared municipalities the order of the day. Amongst the five municipalities visited, the DA established that:
- Senior officials use municipal funds of the municipality as their own personal piggy banks while Mayors act with impunity and COGTA is unable to deal effectively with them
- Only one municipality and one district received unqualified audits
- Not one municipality had enough cash on hand to operate for more than six days, never mind the three months which is financially prudent.
All of this points directly to poor municipal management, to the extent that the DA was forced to reject the hastily cobbled, flawed, incomplete and poorly put together report. Not only did the process around the report flout the KZN legislature’s own rules, but its value to the citizens of KZN is meaningless.
There is no point whatsoever in undertaking expensive and time-consuming oversight exercises if the Department is not willing to act on the findings. Nor is there any hope for positive change while the very people tasked with the critical role of service delivery lack both the political will and the ability to do so.
One must wonder why the ANC continues to make so many unsuitable appointments. The only credible conclusion is that loyalty to the party – or at least, to one of the factions within the ANC – is being blindly rewarded despite the disastrous consequences thereof. Good governance must begin with proper organisation, accountability, structures and procedures which need to be respected and obeyed. It is entirely possible to achieve unqualified audits. The DA knows this because where we govern it has been done for several years in every municipality.
The DA expects MEC Hlomuka to take ownership of this problem and commit to launching a skills audit without any further delay. The Department can no longer bury its head in the sand while so many of our municipalities are failing in their mandate.