Newly appointed minister of co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta), David Van Rooyen, says his department is focused on assisting local government in improving governance and financial stability.
The minister was appointed by President Jacob Zuma on Sunday, after serving as minister of finance for four days. He took over the portfolio, previously held by Pravin Gordhan, who now moves to the ministry of finance.
In his first press briefing since his appointment, Van Rooyen said his experience as former mayor of the Merafong municipality made him appropriately qualified to “fully understand the challenges facing local government”.
He said his experience in Parliament’s portfolio committee on finance also prepared him for this new role.
“The department will continue to support the development and implementation of comprehensive infrastructure and maintenance plans in municipalities,” he said.
Van Rooyen said the impact of the drought in provinces like the North West, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Free State, Limpopo and the Western Cape would be made a priority.
He said the National Disaster Management Centre had deployed a team to Kwa-Zulu Natal to assist in mitigating the effects of the drought.
Van Rooyen also cautioned against fake initiation schools.
He said the death toll of initiates who have died at these schools was now at 43.
He said Cogta had opened a hotline for people to report initiation-related cases, and the phone number is 0800 111 66. Van Rooyen also said the department was ready for next year’s local government elections, and that government would brief the media on the plans shortly.
“I remain immensely proud to be a front line servant of this great nation, a duty I solemnly commit myself to execute diligently,” said Van Rooyen.