Jackson Mthembu. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Jackson Mthembu. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu has said heads must roll following the auditor-general’s (AG) dismal findings on the state of municipalities in the country.

Addressing journalists after a cabinet meeting on Thursday‚ Mthembu said the government wanted to see action taken against habitual offenders in municipalities. “We can’t just continue condemning and condemning‚ we should have an action plan‚” he said

Last month‚ AG Kimi Makwetu said audit outcomes were deteriorating in municipalities; of the 257 municipalities‚ only 18 received clean audits.

Mthembu said municipal officials implicated in wrongdoing would have to pay back the money‚ as the AG has been  empowered in law to undertake this function. “Cabinet said heads must roll for those who continue to spend fruitlessly‚ spend wastefully and spend irregularly.” 

Local government minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has been tasked by the cabinet to work with municipalities to turn things around and is expected to update it periodically.

“The cabinet has said that the national minister working with relevant municipalities must find a way of curbing these maladministration tendencies in our system of local government‚” Mthembu said.

E-tolls taking a toll

Meanwhile‚ the cabinet has given transport minister Fikile Mbalula‚ finance minister Tito Mboweni and Gauteng premier David Makhura a month to come up with a plan to deal with e-tolls in Gauteng. “We are confident that these ministers will act as directed by the president to come back in August on the e-tolling system in Gauteng and say what we should do‚” Mthembu said.

The trio has been involved in a public spat over the matter‚ with Mboweni saying e-tolls are here to stay. Makhura has insisted that the user-pay projects on the province’s highways are overburdening consumers.

Mthembu further announced that the cabinet has approved the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill to go to parliament to be rubber stamped. He said health minister Zweli Mkhize would share further details on the bill in the coming days.

The NHI is expected to provide far-reaching health reforms so that the government can provide healthcare for all. Despite the persisting controversy around the bill‚ the government is certain it will be passed in parliament and later be signed into law.