Current electricity crisis, service delivery issues under the spotlight at Salga conference in George

The current electricity crisis and service delivery issues were under the spotlight at a South African Local Government Association conference at George in the Southern Cape. Salga engaged with local and district municipalities on various challenges.

The engagements follow a decision by Salga’s National Executive Committee to intensify interaction between the association and its member municipalities to resolve various local government concerns.

This conference brings together municipal officials and representatives from across the province.

Salga hopes to resolve issues municipalities are facing. The instability of coalitions is said to be one of the major reasons for poor service delivery.

“Political instability with a lot of coalition municipalities changing every quarter and that affects service delivery because when there’s instability, no decisions can be made. And that’s definitely one of the challenges we’ll raise here with the national leadership and to see how can we have a better impact because there’s a coalition framework Salga has put together. It’s just a matter of they buy-in to execute that framework,” says Memory Booysen: Garden Route district mayor.

The current electricity crisis is high on the agenda and in the Cape Town Metro, the future of rail is also a priority.

“In the City of Cape Town, we’re very interested in the future of rail, how the City of Cape Town and Western Cape government can play a greater role in that space in order to improve efficiency and return the service to what it should be. Also in the energy space, we’re currently in a bad bout of load shedding which is affecting businesses, consumers, and residents of Cape Town are outraged, and rightly so. There are a number of interventions like wheeling and small-scale generation and other matters related to IPP,” Gareth Morgan, City of Cape Town: Future Planning and Resilience.

The lengthy and costly legal battles currently underway in the Central Karoo were also discussed. The district which includes towns such as Beaufort West and Laingsburg has suffered from corruption and mismanagement in recent years.

Controversial newly-elected Central Karoo District Mayor, Gayton Mackenzie was however critical of the conference, saying it is an unnecessary expenditure that could have been held virtually.

“These are all talk shops. Money is being spent, being wasted. We don’t talk about the energy crisis, illegal foreigners in the municipalities. All of this could have been done virtually. Money is being spent, venues booked, it’s just a waste of money,” Gayton Mackenzie, Central Karoo district mayor.

Salga says it was necessary to meet in person to properly discuss and solve problems the municipalities are facing, one of the solutions being the de-politicising of local government.

“This area has coalition government and coalition by its own is its own crisis because it has different interests, different party politics, therefore it can’t be blamed on a mayor…one of the reasons local government is not functioning is due to politics.  We will discuss what are the process to de-politicize local government,” says Bheke Stofile, President: SALGA.

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