“Decentralisation to local government in these countries is not even close to where South Africa is. The budget that our Metro Municipalities have is far beyond reach compared to what most African countries allocate to their municipalities,” Manyoni said.
He added that local government in South Africa held a high standard of first world countries, which puts the country under pressure, unlike most African countries.
“We can’t even compare dysfunctional South African municipalities to municipalities in other countries in the continent,” Manyoni said, who is also the Mayor of Managung Metro Municipality in the Free State.
Although this is the case, Manyoni said South Africa’s local government had similarities with that of other African countries including unemployment challenges.
“The only thing that sets us apart from other countries in this regard, is the degree to which these challenges occur… and fortunately, our policies in South Africa make it easy to address some of the issues,” said Manyoni.
He said South Africa’s success in local government could at least be compared to countries like Morocco, but maintained that most countries learned new tricks from South Africa in local government issues.
Municipalities to improve management systems
Meanwhile, President Jacob Zuma urged municipalities to improve their management systems moving forward, to get better audit reports for each local authority, each year, from the auditor-general.
President Zuma said this can be achieved only if municipalities ensured that their officials possessed necessary minimum skills.
“Government has responded to improve professionalism and the management of local government by introducing amendments to local government legislation, for example the Municipal System Amendment Act.
“Chief financial officers should be skilled in what they are doing, engineers and other technical staff should also be experts in what they have been employed to do,” President Zuma said.
He urged delegates at the summit to align the objectives against the background of the country’s socio-economic blueprint up to 2030, the National Development Plan.
“The Plan has identified a number of areas for targeted action in improving governance and administration. Some of the priority areas to improve delivery include achieving a clearer separation between the roles of the political principals and the administrative heads of municipalities,” President Zuma said.
He added that accountability and oversight in local governance must be improved, or reinforced.
President Zuma said despite shortcomings of municipalities, there are many areas of excellence in local government that could be leveraged on.
“There are municipalities that are functioning effectively, with effective political and administrative systems, with strong internal audit and financial management structures. There are municipalities in which Councils are actively involved in monitoring the implementation of all governance resolutions,” said President Zuma.
“These municipalities are characterised by clean administration where the staff complement as a collective prioritise fraud prevention, and risk management. These municipalities also have a zero tolerance to poor performance, and conduct regular performance reviews and implement corrective measures where needed.”
President Zuma urged municipalities that struggled to carry out their mandate to learn from experiences of successful ones.
“We also commit to support all struggling municipalities. Every municipality must be fully functional and efficient, for the sake of our people who need reliable and efficient services.
“If municipalities do not improve in spite of support, we will have no alternative but to use all constitutional powers and legislative opportunities in the quest to ensure that our communities are served better,” said President Zuma.