Parliament, Tuesday, 28 April 2020 – The Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) held a virtual meeting today with the South African Local Government Association (Salga) to receive a briefing on Covid-19 and related developments in the local sphere of government.
The committee heard that the impact of the lockdown due to Covid-19 has a direct bearing on the communities in the municipalities. Job losses result in reduced or no incomes in households, and that in the end results in reduction in revenue collections by municipalities for services rendered.
The consumption of water and electricity by industries has dropped, and that has impacted negatively on the coffers of the municipalities. Based on these changes, on behalf of the municipalities, Salga has requested for a payment holiday for municipalities not to pay Eskom as they are unable to service their debt.
Salga is also requesting Eskom not to disconnect the electricity supply to their consumers if they do not pay up. The committee, however, is of the opinion that municipalities must pay for services rendered by Eskom as Eskom has cost recovery measures in place to recoup funds owed by municipalities.
Furthermore, the committee said, it is crucial that funds owed to Eskom by municipalities be paid back to ensure that Eskom is in a better position to supply power to ensure that the country in not in darkness.
Salga has also informed the committee that municipalities have not received any financial relief from the government to execute the directives which were issued. An amount of R20 billion which will become available in July from Treasury has been earmarked for relief measures for municipalities. The committee has called upon the municipalities to be frugal and ensure that every cent is accounted for.
On the allegations levelled against some councillors who contravened the Covid-19 regulations, the Chairperson of the committee, Ms Faith Muthambi, said in this time when the people are in dire need of aid, that aid must reach them irrespective of political party affiliation. “People must not go hungry. And on the allegations of some councillors distributing food parcels to their preferred areas over others, this will not be tolerated,” added Ms Muthambi.
Salga reported that it is aware of 19 out of 9 300 councillors who are alleged to be involved in corruption. “Councillors who are stealing food parcels and sanitisers must be severely dealt with,” stressed Ms Muthambi.
Ms Muthambi called on the municipalities to act swiftly with the delivery and installation of water tanks to rural communities as many communities are without water due to the recent drought.
The committee appealed to Salga to ensure that the number of tanks delivered, installed and waiting to be installed in the wards in all the provinces are reconciled, especially in the Northern Cape, Limpopo and the Western Cape, as those provinces were hardest hit by the drought. The list of water tanks is to be resubmitted to the committee.
The committee welcomed Salga’s draft proposal of 4% from the increment of its members (staff and councillors) for contribution to the Solidarity Fund. The committee cautioned Salga, however, that some councillors of various political parties may have already committed to the Solidarity Fund as it was announced by the President and requested Salga to reconsider the proposed pledge.
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON COGTA, MS FAITH MUTHAMBI.
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