Gauteng SOPA: We've heard it all before
Gauteng Premier Makhura has called for more than a dozen plans or reports to be produced in the next 100 days, but OUTA would like to see action instead.
The problems the Premier has outlined have been with us for years. The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) wants to see solutions being implemented, not the subject of yet more plans.
Gauteng fails to take on municipalities
“Gauteng’s municipal decay should have been addressed years ago, but hasn’t, and the Gauteng Provincial Government is responsible,” says Julius Kleynhans, OUTA’s Local Government Operations Executive.
“It is critical that Province exercise its authority in oversight by holding underperforming municipal executives to account.”
Gauteng municipalities have underspent on repairs and maintenance by about R65bn over the past ten years, with devastating impact on municipal infrastructure and leaving this work increasingly unaffordable. However, we have seen exorbitant increases in remuneration costs over the same period.
The Premier now promises that, within 100 days, the MECs for Finance and Cooperative Governance will deliver a report on the financial viability of municipalities, and a report on the implementation of the recovery plan for Emfuleni Local Municipality.
These issues do not need new plans or reports.
On financial viability of municipalities, the Premier could pick up a copy of the Auditor General’s report on local government audit outcomes for 2017/18, released on 26 June. He could also look at the Financial and Fiscal Commission’s report on “Repositioning Local Government Public Finances”, submitted to Parliament on 31 May.
There are also quarterly Section 71 reports on municipal finances, showing ongoing incompetence.
Emfuleni has been under intervention by the province since June 2018 and a Financial Recovery Plan was produced in September. The Premier promised to convene monthly meetings with the MECs, the mayor and MMCs on the financial recovery and service delivery improvements.
Why does the Premier need yet another report on this? Where are the existing reports on progress and implementation? Why don’t we see any progress in Emfuleni?
The collapse of Emfuleni’s sewerage system and pollution of the Vaal River is an ongoing challenge. Money was promised for the SANDF’s R1bn clean up and repair project – due to end in October – and Gauteng Cooperative Governance was meant to contribute to this. Where is this money? In fact, it is estimated that “fixing” Emfuleni’s sewage crisis will amount to approximately R5bn, all because of the lack of maintenance, upgrades and zero accountability.
Nothing new on e-tolls
On Gauteng’s e-tolls, Premier Makhura’s call again to national Government to scrap e-tolls appears to have no influence on ending this failed scheme.
“We need to hear the Premier place Government under more pressure in this regard,” says Wayne Duvenage, OUTA’s CEO.
“The Premier’s call is a repeat of the same comments made for the past few years now, yet the scheme limps on and forces unnecessary costs onto the 20% of motorists who continue to pay under duress.”
The authorities abandoned their litigation approach after a temporary board decision by SANRAL in March to suspend the process of pursuing e-toll debt. This announcement, together with the Credit Bureau Association of South Africa’s confirmation that judgments on e-toll debts may not be used to black-list consumers, saw a further drop off in e-toll compliance. Every day the authorities take in delaying the decision leads to mounting interest costs related to the freeway upgrade bonds.
Where’s the action on corruption?
We welcome the Premier’s promise to clean up corrupt departments and that all outstanding cases will be concluded this term. However, we haven’t seen enough action on this.
OUTA believes there is enough evidence of wrongdoing against a number of individuals, yet these people have not been taken to task, dismissed or charged for their conduct. We would like to see some serious action in this regard.