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SALGA meets with Parliamentary Portfolio Committee: Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs on LG’s response to Covid-19

 

 

 


Posted: 29 April 2020

On 28 April 2020 the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) National Executive Committee (NEC) met with the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to discuss the progress report on the Local Government’s response to Covid-19.

South Africa has been on a national lockdown for the past five weeks to curb the spread of the coronavirus. With the local government being the sphere closest to the people, the impact and implications for the sector are far-reaching needing immediate intervention.

As the country prepares to execute deliberate and cautious approaches to easing lockdown restrictions, SALGA acknowledges the five-stage lockdown plan that will be implemented from 1 May 2020 as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

To date, the local government has been at the forefront of implementing Covid-19 plans and strategies. The delivery of municipal essential services: Traffic services and road traffic incident management; Health services; Disaster and Emergency Services; Supply and distribution of water and electricity, to name a few, still continue throughout the country.

Municipalities across the country have identified 57 quarantine facilities whereas 855 have already been quarantined. A total number of 13 695 homeless people have been provided with shelter. Moreover, 19 011 water tanks have been provided across local governments while 1 315 tankers have been allocated.

SALGA is pleased that its members are adhering to the call made by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma of promoting awareness on COVID-19 to amplify government’s communication. For instance, mayors are leading local radio and social media campaigns in their respective communities. Furthermore, as Covid-19 has affected social cohesion and everyday life, many municipalities have introduced virtual meetings to discuss critical matters.

Despite the mentioned progress in response, the local government is yet to bear the brunt on municipal revenue as the lockdown will result in job losses and reduced income. There will be a reduction in revenue from water and electricity due to reduced company consumption. Loss of revenue from the rental of municipal facilities is also expected, thus, overall, municipal revenues are expected to decline as the 5% drop in payments rates will cost an estimate of R14 billion.

The sector is faced with long-term water challenges; credit control and electricity remain a major concern, therefore, there is a direct need to improve the instruments and measures provided to municipalities to combat the pandemic. SALGA also calls for the improvement of the agility and speed in the decision-making of acquisition of resources by municipalities in response to Covid-19.

Acknowledging all key development surrounding the coronavirus, amongst others, the call by President Ramaphosa for public office bearers to pledge towards the Solidarity Fund – The NEC recommends that Councillors pledge the 4% annual increase for April, May and June 2020. Contributions should be used at a municipal level, linked to a Covid-19 programmes targeting the vulnerable groups.


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