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SALGA Responds to City of Joburg’s Public Pronouncement to Withdraw Participation

Posted: 13 October 2016

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Following the media release by the Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan municipality Herman Mashaba and media reports suggesting the City of Joburg will withdraw funding to the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), this is what SALGA had to say in response.

Under normal course of events SALGA values dialogue and does not engage members through the media, however in defence of the good name of the organisation, we deemed it necessary to clarify certain inaccuracies currently in the public domain that if left unchallenged will harm the integrity and good image of the organisation;

  • SALGA is a membership based organisation created in the constitution of the Republic of South Africa, its primary role is to represent the interest of local government and it is also an employer body to municipalities. It is an organisation with decision making structures that include municipalities led by various political parties. Key among these are democratically elected Provincial Executive Committee’s (PEC’s) and the National Executive Committee (NEC).
  • SALGA’s programmes, policies and its strategic direction is defined by its multiparty political leadership, the NEC and its PEC’s. These structures are made up of senior political leaders, including mayors, voted in by municipalities at highest decision making structures mainly Provincial Conferences and National Conference.
  • Contrary to what the Mayor has raised, SALGA at all times acts in a non-partisan manner consistent with the political diversity of its voice. This means that SALGA acts in the best interest of all our member municipalities regardless of which political party controls a specific municipality.
  • Since the establishment of SALGA in 1996 all municipalities led by various political parties have been active members of organised local government (SALGA). To date we have not been notified of any of our member municipalities’ intentions to withdraw membership from SALGA. As a matter of fact the Democratic Alliance led municipalities (City of Johannesburg included) are active members of SALGA. Furthermore, Democratic Alliance led municipalities have participated very well in the NEC as well as PECs of all other provinces where they have significant presence. It has always been a standing practice since the advent of democratic local government in December 2000, to include participation of all political parties that are leading municipalities in both the PEC and NEC, even when they were a minority in the province.
  • Regarding the unfortunate statement of the Executive Mayor who said the following “Over the years, SALGA has, in my view, strayed from its mandate. It has become bloated and top-heavy. It has spent too much money on nice-to-haves and on projects of dubious utility.” For the record, SALGA is a high performing organisation and has achieved many awards locally and internationally in this regard. We observe with disappointment the unfortunate and unfounded allegations by the Executive Mayor. SALGA is a body that is accountable to its municipalities and Parliament and is audited by the supreme audit body the Auditor General. These organisations have bestowed SALGA with a number of accolades in this regard no less than 7 successive unqualified and 4 clean audits from the Auditor General, an achievement admired by many in the private and public sector.
  • After a mere 43 days in office it is unfortunate for Mayor Mashaba to have made these unfounded observations and determinations without first familiarising himself with organisational policies of SALGA and its governance records which is easily accessible by all municipalities and is public record.
  • As recent as 2 weeks ago SALGA Gauteng at its Provincial Conference received praise from municipalities for achieving all its targets over the last 8 years.

As a membership organisation, SALGA uses proportional representation and the one municipality one vote principle. These principles are not just used by SALGA but by Regional, Continental and International associations of local government alike. This gives every municipality a fair and meaningful chance to participate in SALGA and shape it to better serve Local Government and its interests.

In line with its profiling mandate, SALGA will be convening a major event, its National Conference in November. This event attracts delegates from all municipalities in South Africa, continental bodies and other sister associations in the world, in this regard the City of Johannesburg was approached to co-host this important event with SALGA and thereby take advantage of this opportunity to showcase its achievements, key attractions and developments to this global audience. We note with regret Mayor Mashaba’s public communication to decline to take up this important opportunity.

It is also important to indicate that the City of Johannesburg has been one of the most consistent and meaningful players in the affairs of SALGA since its establishment and we remain confident it will continue to occupy its rightful place in the affairs of SALGA. It is in this context that SALGA will prioritise engagement with the City of Johannesburg to resolve this matter in an amicable way so that the voice of organised local government is not defocused from its meaningful work.

 
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