‘A spaza shop is better run than Msunduzi Municipality,’ says deputy minister

  • Deputy Minister for Public Service and Administration, Sindisiwe Chikunga, has lambasted Msunduzi’s leadership for letting the city remain in perpetual chaos
  • Chikunga is on a visit to uMgungundlovu to assess progress on service delivery reforms and economic recovery interventions
  • Says it is obvious from the auditor-general’s damning reports that there was overall poor management of the municipality

Deputy Minister for Public Service and Administration, Sindisiwe Chikunga, has lambasted Msunduzi’s leadership for letting the city remain in perpetual chaos.

She was speaking at the City Hall on Tuesday as part of her three-day visit to uMgungundlovu to assess progress on service delivery reforms and economic recovery interventions.

“Surely in a state such as this, corruption will be the order of the day.”

Deputy Minister for Public Service and Administration, Sindisiwe Chikunga

Chikunga did not hide her dissatisfaction with the state of the City’s books or the urban decay around Pietermaritzburg. “Surely in a state such as this, corruption will be the order of the day,” she said.

She said it was obvious from the auditor-general’s damning reports that there was overall poor management of the municipality. “The spaza shop is managed better than what you’re doing here,” said Chikunga.

“Compliance and accountability to governance, administration and financial systems, processes and procedures accompanied by requisite capacitated skilled human resources are critical elements to the resuscitation of Msunduzi Local Municipality.”

Deputy Minister for Public Service and Administration, Sindisiwe Chikunga

She said Msunduzi could not be expected to turn around if they employed people who were not suitably qualified and there was no consequence management.

“Compliance and accountability to governance, administration and financial systems, processes and procedures accompanied by requisite capacitated skilled human resources are critical elements to the resuscitation of Msunduzi Local Municipality.”

READ MORE | Msunduzi audit head’s urgent application against forensic report adjourned

Chikunga said one of the things that Msunduzi was now known for was being filthy and that should come as no surprise because by-laws were not enforced. She said this created an environment where people were brazen enough to erect illegal structures in the CBD.

She also spoke on the issues that she said severely comprised service delivery. Those included the high vacancy rate as well as the poor spending on capital grants and capital project management.

“We should not in any way hold citizens hostage or compromise service delivery by not spending the grants. When money is not spent and sent back to National Treasury, it is delaying access to services for the people and is equivalent to maladministration.”

She said she was aware that Msunduzi was facing funding challenges for its integrated rapid public transport network (IRPTN) but if she was the minister of finance she would not give them that money. She said year after year the municipality has failed to spend its grant allocation for the project and had to ask for rollovers.

READ MORE | Msunduzi lobbying Treasury for R147,5 million to complete integrated public transport project

On Tuesday The Witness reported that the City was trying to lobby the Treasury to give it R147,5 million needed to complete the project, after the Treasury suspended the funding for the IRPTN due to poor performance.

Chikunga also wanted to know who would be cleaning Pietermaritzburg and attending to service delivery outages during the festive season.

“This municipality has a potential to become a metro [but] you can’t even clean the town … You’re expecting tourists to come here to see what, dirt?”

On the graft, she said people in positions of power must stop robbing the poor by stealing money meant for service delivery. She said it was sinful that some officials “think exactly like criminals” and become habitual thieves.

READ MORE | Deathtrap potholes multiply in Pietermaritzburg

“Greed does not end. So you keep on stealing but it is a sin before God to steal from the poor. It is a sin before our ancestors to steal and go to their graves to perform rituals with money you’ve stolen. You also go to church and make offerings with the money you’ve stolen, shame on you.”

MSUNDUZI NEEDS R10 BILLION TO REPAIR INFRASTRUCTURE

Municipal manager, Madoda Khathide has said about R10 billion is needed to repair ageing infrastructure, but Msunduzi does not have the money to do this.

Nevertheless, he and the administrator, Scelo Duma, said management was working hard to turn the City around and progress had been made in some areas but they had no funds for some of the things that needed to be done.

OUR VIEWPOINT | A new model to rescue Msunduzi Municipality

Khathide said they had started filling critical vacancies, including that of head of infrastructure.

He said the infrastructure department still had a high vacancy rate, which made it difficult to keep up with things such as the ageing infrastructure and the expenditure on the grants for projects.

“We are going to have these outages for 100 years to come if we don’t actually address this … We are losing a number of investors because we cannot sustain the supply of electricity.”

Msunduzi municipal manager, Madoda Khathide

“One exco member, who was supposed to be here from the DA, confirmed that for the last 50 years we’ve not maintained the infrastructure here in Msunduzi. So we would expect that time and again we would have these outages …”

He said an estimated R10 billion was needed to address the ageing infrastructure but Msunduzi had no money to fund this.

“We are going to have these outages for 100 years to come if we don’t actually address this … We are losing a number of investors because we cannot sustain the supply of electricity.”

READ MORE | Pietermaritzburg’s small businesses fear a total city blackout

Both Khathide and the chief financial officer, Nelisiwe Ngcobo, blamed non-payment for services by many of Msunduzi’s consumers for the City’s cash woes.

These include residents and businesses who have owed the municipality for several years as well as those who steal water and electricity. Ngcobo said some government departments also owed Msunduzi but they had received commitments that they would be getting their money this month.

She said the high debtors book, which sat at more than R4 billion, was the reason the municipality could not honour its financial obligations to service providers.

“We’ve turned the corner. Out of R80 million that we’ve received this financial year, we’ve spent the whole amount.”

Msunduzi municipal manager, Madoda Khathide

She said the municipality owed R1 billion to service providers but it could not settle those debts. The Witness previously reported that the City also had to enter into a six-month payment agreement with Eskom in order to avoid being cut off.

Khathide said it would not do the people of Msunduzi any justice to deprive the municipality of grants because it previously underspent.

He pleaded for Chikunga’s intervention on this, saying the City now had a new management and leadership who were committed to ensuring that service delivery was provided but they could not do that without grants from central government.

READ MORE | Jika Joe neighbours ‘gatvol’ with electricity outages

“We’ve turned the corner. Out of R80 million that we’ve received this financial year, we’ve spent the whole amount.”

He said they were not spending money on luxuries but they were at the point where they were struggling to even attend to the basic stuff like “fixing a robot”.

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