Afesis-corplan welcomes the appointment of the new Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Minister, Ms. Thembi Nkadimeng. Having previously served as the deputy minister of COGTA, president of SALGA and the executive mayor of Polokwane Municipality, amongst other senior roles in the public and private sector, Nkadimeng is experienced, knowledgeable and energetic.
The local government sphere is riddled with many challenges and requires an innovative thinker who will actively participate in resolving burning issues of legislation, service delivery, financial misconduct, and underperformance of municipalities – especially those in the rural areas.
Key to the tasks that await Minister Nkadimeng in her new role, is tackling the challenges resultant from Section 139 (of the Constitution), the chaotic results emanating from some decisions around demarcation, viability of a number of municipalities and the local government financing model, political interference in local government and weak administrative and oversight capacity, amidst poly-dimensional crises across the country. Key in the minister’s role is not only to professionalise local government and to ensure that viable municipalities emerge, but it is also about ensuring that developmental institutions emerge that can meaningfully engage the present challenges of climate change, unemployment and increasing inequality.
Afesis-corplan would like to see the following issues being top of the list of priorities for the new minister:
- The implementation of strong consequence management for misconduct and an intolerance to wrongdoers;
- Strengthening of administrative capacity and oversight mechanisms;
- Insulating local government from political interference: politicians allowing administrators to do their work without fear or favor; and
- The minister must also address with urgency the collusion of business and political interests in procurement processes, thus resulting in corruption and interfering with service delivery.
While we note the promising changes in the COGTA ministry, there are grave concerns with the lack of action against underperforming ministers who are at the helm of ministries that are critical to the lives of ordinary South Africans. The president seems hellbent on playing a political game, instead of making changes that will bring solutions to the myriad of issues afflicting the country.
South Africa needs more radical and intentional changes to happen in government so that society can change for the better for the poor and the working class. We need action, now more than ever.
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