East London – The coalition government of Nelson Mandela Bay Metro was not working, Eastern Cape Finance and Economic Affairs MEC Oscar Mabuyane said on Tuesday.
Mabuyane made the comments while speaking to African News Agency (ANA) in East London at a municipal oversight meeting called by provincial treasury.
Present were mayors, speakers, finance officials, auditing teams and those responsible for infrastructure.
Nelson Mandela Bay had not sent representatives, said Mabuyane.
He said the metro had “regressed” in governance, spending of financial allocations and service delivery.
“We are very much unhappy with Nelson Mandela Bay for not being here. Clearly that coalition is not working; it is falling further into chaos, they can’t even meet the basic requirements, they don’t even honour meetings where they are invited, it’s on a downward spiral and is in bad shape,” said Mabuyane.
The metro, he said, was meant to be the model for other municipalities in the province.
Amatlhathi Local Municipality, which had experienced service delivery protests, also did not “honour the meeting”, he said.
Mabuyane said he was concerned with the performance of several municipalities that had not yet spent half of their financial allocations as it was only two months before the municipal financial year end.
The MEC said under expenditure was “concerning” because even though there was money, citizens were not being provided with services.
“The status of spending is not good at all,” he said, adding that the root cause of under spending was “poor planning and a shortage of skills due to a lack of leadership”.
The province’s local government sphere was not functioning efficiently, he said.
“It’s a serious challenge, because it means we will take long getting into how we service our people and deal with issues of development in the province. If they can’t spend money on municipality infrastructure grants but they can spend money on salaries there is something wrong. The primary purpose of municipalities is developmental programmes to change peoples lives. If we can’t make that a priority, we have a problem.”
Provincial treasury and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) would establish a project management unit to monitor infrastructure implementation, said Mabuyane.
He said he was happy with reports from municipalities that – since the last meeting – confirmed the implementation of consequence management, improved performance and improved on spending of infrastructure grants.
“I am happy that some of the mayors reported to the meeting the consequence management they are taking against some of their employees for wrong doing in municipalities. If you are an accounting officer you must fall on your sword, but at the same time we are not going to use administration to fix political problems,” he said.
“Our appeal to political parties is that they must help us to create stability and cohesion in municipalities. People must have a sense of appreciating that they are a privileged few that have been assembled in the council to serve the multitude of the less privileged,” said Mabuyane.
A provincial treasury team would arrange one-on-one meetings with Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and Amatlhathi Local Municipality, he said.
African News Agency (ANA)