The Democratic Alliance (DA) can confirm that the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has missed all but one of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on CoGTA meetings. In addition to this, the Minster has also failed to give substantial responses to many of the opposition’s Parliamentary questions posed to her.
During this Sixth Parliament, the DA posed more than 69 written questions to the Minister and her department with the majority of the responses reading “[the] information requested by the Honourable Member is not readily available in the Department. The information will be submitted to the Honourable Member as soon as it is available”.
The DA is of the view that Minister Dlamini-Zuma’s continued absence and deflection, is wrong both in principle and in practice because it hinders Parliament’s ability to effectively oversee the work of her department.
Portfolio Committees provide a crucial avenue for opposition parties, citizens and civic organizations to contribute to the policymaking process, through written submissions or by participating in public hearings. Quite frankly, it is unacceptable for Minister Dlamini-Zuma not to attend portfolio committees or answer Parliamentary questions in what seems to be an attempt to evade accountability.
Her evasion of Parliamentary oversight is particularly concerning at a time when solutions are needed to fix the dire state of local governments which are facing major operational and financial challenges, underpinned by rampant corruption and gross governance challenges.
A crisis will be inevitable unless Minister Dlamini – Zuma starts involving herself to take corrective steps to fix municipalities that are facing collapse due to deteriorating financial governance.
Here is an example that action is needed by the Minister to avoid a crisis in municipalities:
- In the North West, a number of municipalities are dysfunctionality and lack capacity. Phokwane Local Municipality in Hartswater, in the Northern Cape, is failing to deliver basic services to its residents.
- Billions of rands have disappeared in Limpopo municipalities who invested in VBS which has rendered several municipalities bankrupt
- Residents from the township of Joza in Makhanda still have to walk a long way to fetch water, owing to the local government’s failure to meet their basic needs, etc.
Parliament has an essential role to play it in restoring local government to some degree of financial and operational efficiency, in order to improve the levels of service delivery for the achievement of a better quality of life for all citizens.
To think Minister Dlamini- Zuma had ambitions of becoming the state President of this country. In what world was she going to be able to rescue South Africa from these turbulent and raging seas – if she is failing to ensure that the one department she is the head of, is in order. The country would not have fared well with a “Missing President” and we certainly cannot afford a “Missing Minister” at CoGTA.
Strong, decisive and most importantly present leadership is needed to fix broken municipalities, which are mired by lack of leadership and skills, fraud and corruption, and political infighting. The DA calls on Minister Dlamini –Zuma to avail herself to Parliament to which she is accountable so that the Portfolio committee can continue with its work of oversight and accountability.