Gov to foot Utrecht Municipality’s bills to keep town running

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Two municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal are seeing interventions being implemented in the hopes of ensuring their respective communities and staff do not suffer.

On Friday, 30 July 2021, KwaZulu-Natal Finance MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube conditionally approved and authorised the payment of salaries for workers and other allied municipal needs at Umkhanyakude District Municipality. The Umkhanyakude District Municipality covers uMhlabuyalingana, Jozini, Big Five False Bay, Hlabisa and Mtubatuba.

This comes after the district municipality wrote to the MEC, requesting her to approve the payment of salaries, as they could not use their funds without authorisation since they had not convened to pass their budget.

After due diligence, the MEC approved the payment of salaries, subject to the municipality convening to pass their budget. Noting that Umkhanyakude and eMadlangeni (Utrecht) municipalities have been confronted with serious governance, financial and service delivery challenges.

Among these include the failure to convene to pass and approve annual budgets, despite protracted efforts by the Provincial Treasury and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), which worked with both municipalities to resolve their financial and administrative challenges.

In July, the Cogta MEC, Sipho Hlomuka, expressed his concern at the failure by the uMkhanyakude and eMadlangeni Councils to pass their respective budget as required by law.

According to section 25 of the Municipal Finance Management Act, municipalities should have approved their annual budget, including revenue-raising measures necessary to affect the budget by 30 June 2021. 

According to MEC Hlomuka, the failure by the two councils threatened their ability to discharge their constitutional obligations of service delivery. 

Reflecting on the matter and implementing the necessary interventions, Dube-Cube points out, “We noted that the payments were urgent and were necessary for the stability of Umkhanyakude, hence our conditional approval. I have also approved the intervention in terms of section 139(4) of the Constitution, 1996, at the uMkhanyakude District and eMadlangeni (Utrecht) Local Municipalities, to ensure the continued functioning of the municipalities.”

Dube-Ncube has also approved the extension of the temporary budgets and associated revenue-raising measures for the municipalities and allowing them to conclude all formalities related to this intervention.

The department is further working with CoGTA to stabilise a compromised governance system in both municipalities, contributing to the current state of affairs. 

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