EC Premier reads Riot Act to Provincial Departments

Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kiviet has given provincial government departments up to the end of September 2012 to pay their services debts to municipalities or face service cuts.

Premier Kiviet asked the Joe Gqabi Municipality and its four local municipalities to cut off provision of services to Departments that have not paid what they owe by that date. This was done while she addressed a closed intergovernmental relations meeting in Burgersdorp as part of the two-day Executive Council Outreach programme.
Provincial Government Departments owe Joe Gqabi Municipalities R9.1million for services such as rates, electricity, water and refuse removal.  The amount includes ElundiniLocalMunicipality that is owed the largest sum at R4.79 million, followed by SenquMunicipality at R2.7million, GariepMunicipality at R1.07 million and lastly the MaletswaiMunicipality at R1.07million.

Kiviet gave a similar directive in BuffaloCityMunicipality when serious concerns were also raised about non-payment of service charges by Provincial Government Departments.
During the closed session the provincial government and the JoeGqabiDistrictMunicipality shared information on progress and lack thereof in service delivery plus suggested solutions to take development efforts to a higher and better level in the DistrictMunicipality that has only 5% contribution to the provincial Gross Domestic Product.

The Joe Gqabi Executive Council Outreach Programme is the last leg of the 2012 Exco Outreach Programme that has already covered the CacaduDistrictMunicipality, Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and BuffaloCityMetroMunicipalities.  The outreach programme seeks to break barriers to communication between various spheres of government, stakeholders and communities.

The Premier appreciated progress made over the past three years in improving audit outcomes of the Joe Gqabi District Municipality and its four local municipalities which moved from one unqualified audit with two disclaimers and an adverse opinion to three unqualified and two qualified audit findings by the AG in 2011/12 financial year.

The DistrictMunicipality was also praised by the Auditor General for “very encouraging (audit) outcomes”.  The Premier also appreciated political stability that cascaded to administrative stability with all municipalities having employed Municipal Managers and Chief Financial Officers and signed performance agreements with all of them.
She said so much still has to be done to improve the quality of lives in the JoeGqabiDistrictMunicipality. However, areas of good progress include:

* the reduction of poverty from 79% to 63%;

* 19% improvement of numbers of households earning above R3500 per month to 31%;

* interventions to ensure quality water supply including an R18 million investment in water treatment projects and monthly checking of water quality;  and

* a R7.4 million injection to the Joe Gqabi Development Agency for revitalisation of the Aliwal Spa for enhancing tourism and economic development.
Among the challenges for Provincial Government are:
* Possible amendment of the funding model for the District Municipality to move beyond population size to cater for massive backlogs in things like water infrastructure that needs over R259-million and road infrastructure that needs over R4billion; and

* Massive unemployment through among others declaring the Joe Gqabi and ChrisHaniDistrictMunicipalities special economic zones (SEZs) that focus on agricultural production and processing in order to create sustainable jobs.

Premier Kiviet urged local leaders to be innovative and collectively develop unique local strategies for fighting poverty, underdevelopment and unemployment using their strengths.  She urged them to see and exploit business opportunities and follow great examples from many parts of the world.

She warned those older than 35 years of age not to wait for hard-to-find job opportunities, but to rekindle the spirit that characterized pre-colonial societies where people were enterprising and more self reliant.  She said they should revive the spirit that was destroyed by colonialism, repression and destruction of people’s means of production – that forced people to sell their labour. There could be justification in waiting for jobs and government grants 18 years after the attainment of freedom and democracy.
The Premier criticised those businesses that won tenders but delivered shoddy work which resulted in, for an example, delays in delivering over 5000 housing units in the District Municipality. This led to some contractors being dismissed, replaced or provided with additional contractors to speed up the construction of houses.
Today Premier Kiviet, accompanied by Local Government and Traditional Leaders MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane lead an inspection of a Pilot Train Housing Project, handed over two of the 140 housing units to needy families at Mzamomhle Township, inspected the Burgersdorp Thusong Service Center as well as a home for the aged before addressing a public meeting in Mzamomhle Community Hall in Burgersdorp.
Other clusters of MECs visited, inspected and launched other projects in Ugie and Aliwal North today.

Transport, Roads and Public Works MEC Thandiswa Marawu launched a site for Amathuba Jobs Portal and an Expanded Public Works Programme in Ugie together with MEC Xoliswa Tom of Sport Recreation Arts and Culture.  They then addressed communities in a public engagement session in Ntokozweni Community Hall in Ugie.
MEC Pemmy Majodina of Social Development and Special Programmes and MEC Mandla Makupula of Education visited the Aliwal North Hospital and a burnt-down school for children with disabilities in Aliwal North before addressing communities in an imbizo to be held in Joe Slovo Hall.

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