South Africa News

Paul Mashatile insists ANC dealing with dysfunctional municipalities

Deputy President Paul Mashatile defended the African National Congress (ANC)-led government as he was grilled in Parliament over the state of municipalities across the country.

Mashatile responded to questions from Members of Parliament (MPs) in the National Assembly on Friday.

‘ANC is on the ground’

During the Q&A session, Democratic Alliance (DA) chief whip Siviwe Gwarube asked Mashatile to apologise for the dysfunctional state of some of the country’s municipalities.

“You have been tasked with championing service delivery as the deputy president. Will you at least be honest with South Africans and apologise for the mismanagement and the theft at local government that has left places like Johannesburg in the mess that they’re in today?” Gwarube said.

In his response, Mashatile, who has been tasked with leading efforts to improve service delivery in the local government sphere, said the challenges faced by the municipalities were “problems we are well aware of”.

The deputy president said he had visited several municipalities, including Emfuleni Local Municipality in to assess service delivery failures since his appointment earlier this year.

“Yes it is true that in some of our municipalities, the state of roads is not in good order, but a lot of work is happening. So, it’s not like there are challenges and the ANC is not doing anything,” he said.

“The ANC is on the ground and dealing with these issues… We are intervening and I’m confident that we are going to improve service delivery on the ground,” Mashatile continued.

“The problems are just not leadership or poor governance; it is also a lack of economic activity. There are some municipalities in South Africa where there is no economic base.

“We need to look at that and I think at some point we may have to even merge some of them so that we are able to give them capacity to generate revenue.”

He, however, said parties needed to work together to improve service delivery and that “finger pointing does not work”.

“It’s about improving the lives of the people on the ground,” Mashatile said.

“The nation’s success is far greater than the narrow interests of individuals and political parties so let’s work together.”

Coalitions framework

Meanwhile, Mashatile said a framework for coalitions was in the works to address the instability at a local government level.

“The national government in collaboration with the provincial government will continue to strengthen the capabilities of municipalities in managing their own affairs because we don’t want to take over, we want to help carry out their functions.”

The deputy president further denied the suggestion by United Democratic Movement (UDM) president Bantu Holomisa that the ANC supported of election thresholds in order to “throttle” smaller parties.

“It was really to set up a benchmark that is acceptable in terms of how we do work going forward. I know that General [Holomisa], you were among those who were very sceptical of this threshold. I think at some point you said this is the machination of the ANC and DA to try and throttle us. That is not the case,” said Mashatile.

“When parties go and contest elections they do so to win. I am sure when you campaign you want to win to have a presence that can be felt, when it comes to bodies like this. It shouldn’t be difficult for a party to get more than one percent if you campaign hard. General, we are not using the threshold to exclude you.”

Last month, Mashatile led a national dialogue on coalitions held at the University of the Western Cape to discuss the rules governing coalitions.

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