South Africa: Statement by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize at a send-off Ceremony for Newly Appointed Engineers and Town Planners to Support Distressed Municipalities

Deputy Minister Nel,

Top Management

Our District Technical Support Teams,

Ladies and gentlemen of the media,

Good morning to you all and thank you for joining us.

Earlier this year I indicated that the performance of the majority of municipalities remained below expectations. I said only seven percent of the country’s municipalities are classified as well-functioning, with thirty one percent being reasonably functional, thirty one percent almost dysfunctional while the remaining 31% is dysfunctional.

We identified 87 distressed and dysfunctional municipalities for intervention towards recovery, working with the National Treasury. Our interventions are in line with Section 154 of the Constitution, which provides that national and provincial government must support and strengthen the capacity of municipalities to manage their own affairs, exercise their powers and perform their functions.

The current intervention programmes are clustered into three main critical areas – governance and administration, financial management and service delivery.

As part of the implementation of the recovery programme, I have undertaken visits to the Eastern Cape, North West, Limpopo and the Free State. At the end of August we will be in Gert Sibande district in Mpumalanga. During each visit, we meet with provincial and municipal leadership and intensively discuss the problems, interventions and solutions. The priority issues we look at include governance and administration, service delivery, infrastructure, financial management, poor revenue collection, political instability and leadership.

Today we provide an update on the service delivery aspect of the recovery programme.

I indicated in the COGTA Budget speech that in the past five years, since 2012/13, a total of R3.4 billion in MIG transfers was stopped and was reallocated from underspending municipalities to better spending municipalities. I said this was not ideal as it tended to penalise municipalities with a lower capacity and hence punishing the poorer communities. This cannot continue, rather alternatives must be found to support service delivery to poorer communities. This is why we have decided to institute this programme. We want to solve once and for all, the problem of money being sent back due to failure to spend it by municipalities.

The ability of municipalities to plan, deliver, operate and maintain infrastructure is dependent to a greater extent, on the capacity of officials to execute their responsibilities. The technical nature of the responsibilities demands requisite levels of expertise and skills, mainly in the field of civil engineering. The situation in the country has been such that only 55 municipalities out of 257, had engineers leading their technical divisions.

I made a commitment that COGTA would, through our implementing agent, the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent, (MISA) urgently support 55 struggling municipalities to spend their infrastructure allocations. I said we would deploy District Technical Support Teams in the affected municipalities.

We have established the District Technical Support Teams and have appointed engineers and town planners who have been deployed to municipalities in the nine provinces.

It is my great pleasure to warmly welcome to COGTA, our 81 new engineers and town planners. We have thus far appointed;

Nine provincial managers, most of whom are engineers.

Thirty six civil engineers with seven of them being chief engineers,

Fourteen electrical engineers,

Sixteen town and regional planners.

Seven candidate civil engineers, who are experienced engineers who are in the process of completing their professional registration.

Our technical support programme will run until the end of April 2021.

You have joined us in the spirit of Thuma Mina as outlined by the President in the State of the Nation Address. You join us in the middle of an active programme of working to turn around the dysfunctional and distressed municipalities so that the lives of our people can improve. You have a huge responsibility to improve the management of key infrastructure especially in predominantly black residential areas where people are suffering from constant outages of electricity or the breaking water pipes leading to no water for days or even weeks and indeed the building of new infrastructure altogether.

As part of youth development, MISA has also appointed 62 young graduates in civil engineering, electrical engineering, town and regional planning, project and construction management as well as solid waste management fields. Our overall recruitment programme is still continuing. The Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent has advertised for more engineers and town planners to fill existing vacancies as the MISA organogram makes provision for 150 technical experts.

We are aware of the shortages of skills in critical sectors such as water engineering and our next recruitment drive will seek to correct that shortage.

Our engineers will find serious problems in the water and sanitation sector due to either ageing infrastructure, inferior quality built historically or poor maintenance in predominantly black residential areas. Some municipalities face problems related sewage spillages or blockages. Ditsobotla Local Municipality in North West. Some municipalities in Mpumalanga such as Lekwa and Govan Mbeki are also facing sewage spillage problems and this impairs the dignity of residents.

We sent service providers this past weekend to help unblock the sewers in Mpumalanga, while teams are assisting in Ditsobohla and will be doing the same in other areas. The Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent is also busy with infrastructure projects such as the fixing of roads, boreholes and other infrastructure in a number of areas and we will distribute the list.

We will be looking to you as our technical teams to help our people by fixing these problems.

The technical experts will work with the governance and financial management experts that the Department of Cooperative Governance is in the process of sourcing. The MISA technical experts will focus on infrastructure management, while the national and provincial COGTA Departments will attend to financial management and governance issues, working with the national and provincial treasuries. Our complete technical support team will thus be constituted by a civil engineer, an electrical engineer, a project and construction manager, a town and regional planner, a financial manager, and an expert in governance and administration.

The teams are expected to build permanent capacity in these municipalities beyond project implementation. To improve monitoring, COGTA is exploring the acquisition of ICT capability and an early warning system dashboard.

This ICT capability will improve our effectiveness in supporting early interventions and will enable us to support our district support teams better.

We want to build functional municipalities. Functional municipalities are well-managed and deliver the basic services. The pride of any municipality is access to healthy potable and high quality water, good roads, a clean environment, working street lights, and an efficiently-run administration with good governance and no corruption. We are determined to build such municipalities.

We unveiled our Thuma Mina Pledge to the President of the Republic when he visited COGTA and this mantra guides our work, and will guide these technical experts as they executive their responsibilities in the 55 municipalities.


I want to be there when our people turn municipalities around. Send me!

When they triumph over poverty unemployment and inequality I want to be there.

When our people protest and cry out for service delivery I want to be there.

I want to be there for the indigent unemployed and those in informal settlements.

I want to lend a hand when our people fight against rigging of tenders fraud and corruption.

I want to be there when our people eliminate crime, violence and the abuse of women and children.

I want to be there in the fight against HIV and AIDS and tuberculosis and cancers.

I want to be there to ensure food security and healthy lifestyles, Send me!

I want to be there when our people fight for land and get involved in the agrarian revolution.

I want to be there when our people clean the streets of our towns and cities to reclaim our dignity and pride.

I want to be there when our people fix the potholes, broken lights and cut the grass on the verges of the roads.

I want to be there to ensure that natural disasters do not reverse our development gains.

I want to be there when our people share in the country#39;s wealth to beincluded in a growing and vibrant economy.

I want to lend a hand in the struggle to improve the lives of all South Africans.

I want to be there for nation building, social cohesion and the protection of human rights for all.

THUMA Mina, Send Me!

I am ready to serve our people, nothing else but serve our people.

Thuma Mina!

I thank you!

Source: Cooperative Governance Traditional Affairs, Republic of South Africa