Gauteng ANC may act on billing issues
THE African National Congress (ANC) in Gauteng will "drastically intervene" if it is not satisfied with municipalities’ plans to tackle billing problems, Gauteng provincial secretary David Makhura said on Thursday.
This came as the ANC took stock of whether it had deployed the right people in Gauteng municipalities, conducting an assessment of the performance of its mayors, chief whips and council speakers. This was the first of yearly assessments by the ANC in the province.
The combined budget of municipalities in Gauteng stands at R99bn. Except for Midvaal — which falls under the Democratic Alliance — all of the municipalities in the province are controlled by the ANC.
The municipalities, particularly the three metros, are struggling with various challenges, including properties that do not appear in municipal records but receive services. City of Johannesburg investigations into this suspected multimillion-rand rates scam have revealed it is much more extensive than first believed.
Johannesburg has faced a potential cash crisis over the years as it struggled to collect payments for services rendered to residents.
The City of Tshwane was looking to install prepaid electricity meters this year in a bid to avoid billing problems. Tshwane and Joburg are the two biggest metros in Gauteng. The other metro is Ekurhuleni.
"If we are not satisfied with the steps that they are taking, we will be taking action," said Mr Makhura. As provincial secretary, he has the power to influence the deployment of ANC members to government positions in Gauteng.
The opposition in Gauteng has been pushing for municipal public accounts committees to be chaired by councillors from within its ranks — a proposal the ANC has rejected.
In terms of a recent report by the auditor-general, no Gauteng municipality had received a clean audit. However, only 13 municipalities out of 343 across the whole of South Africa had obtained clean audit opinions. The City of Johannesburg obtained its second successive qualified audit, making it the worst of South Africa’s eight metros in terms of financial management.
Mr Makhura said Gauteng was striving to become a model of good governance. "We are not satisfied. We expected better results from this year’s (audit) report and that is why we are intervening," he said.
According to a Municipal IQ report released in June, service delivery protests in Gauteng have decreased. However, the decline was attributed to effective policing.
Mr Makhura said the party’s plan to have the best people in government was being implemented at a number of levels, and encompassed political education and performance monitoring and evaluation.
On Sunday, about 600 ANC provincial, regional and branch leaders graduated from the new political school in Gauteng.
ANC performance monitoring and evaluations unit head Kgosi Maepa said the assessment yesterday was part of a process to accustom ANC members to being accountable. His team of six will conduct these assessment sessions every year.
A detailed report of Gauteng municipalities’ contribution to economic growth will be released next week, Mr Makhura said.