Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Zweli Mkhize, has revealed that his department is setting up an intervention programme that will assist to build capacity in distressed municipalities.

Tabling the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent’s (MISA) 2017/18 annual report in parliament the minister said he hopes to turn around 55 municipalities with a record of underspending in the first phase of the programme.

Mkhize said target support was being provided distressed municipalities through district support teams comprising experts in various fields such as engineering, project management, finance, governance and geographic information system (GIS), among others.

Significant strides

The minister added that progress was being made in strengthening capacity in municipalities.

“Significant strides have been made in the filling of vacancies, particularly the appointment of engineers and other technical personnel as permanent employees,” he said.

“The strengthening of capacity in municipalities can only be sustained through the recruitment of suitably qualified people for critical positions. This will be achieved through, among others, the creation of a skills pipeline by training graduates and artisans, as well as upskilling of individuals already employed by municipalities to become professionals in their respective fields. MISA has done very well in the year under review to move Cogta and the country towards this trajectory.”

MISA, which is Cogta’s implementing agent, has the mandate of providing technical support to municipalities for effective and efficient development and maintenance of basic services infrastructure.

Tackling high service backlogs

“MISA also continued with the setting up of the Programme Management Office (PMO) established to manage implementation of support for 27 districts prioritised by cabinet in view of relatively high service backlogs still prevalent within their spaces,” the Ministry said in a statement.

The Inter-Ministerial Task Team for service delivery will intensify efforts towards reducing backlogs in these 27 districts and other municipalities in line with targets set in Outcome 9 of the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTEF) for five years to 2019.

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