Government to prioritise fixing services in dysfunctional municipalities

From sewer flowing in the streets to dry taps and poor roads, these are the urgent challenges that Deputy President David Mabuza says the three spheres of government will prioritise, among others, in 64 dysfunctional municipalities once councils have elected their leadership.

Responding to questions from provincial delegates at the National Council of Provinces, the Deputy President said the 64 municipalities, which are named in the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs’ (CoGTA) 2021 State of Local Government Report will be prioritised to ensure that service delivery is addressed and that the dignity of the people is restored.

“We are going to focus our attention mainly on the 64 municipalities as identified by CoGTA. Of course that does not mean that we will turn a blind eye to all the municipalities that are struggling,” he said.

The Deputy President said government would utilise the district development model as a platform where national, provincial and local governments can meet and plan together.

“The situation where our people live is very dire. We saw sewer running in the streets. We saw taps that are dry, there is no water. There are no roads. So our people are yearning for services.

“We are waiting for these municipal councils to confirm the leadership of these municipalities so that we can start to hit the road and attend to [the] ailing infrastructure that continue to disrupt services meant for our people.

“This we are going to do working together as the three spheres of government,” he said.

The Deputy President said all municipalities remain a priority in meeting people’s basic needs.

He said access to basic services such as water, sanitation and electricity and basic refuse removal is what makes people’s living spaces liveable. Government’s rapid response measures aim to address in good time any emerging challenges at municipal level to prevent the collapse of services to the people, he said.

“Some of the areas that require improvement are on leadership capacity, managerial capacity, technical, project execution – especially in infrastructure projects and financial management skills, to ensure the sustainability of all municipalities.

“Some of the challenges and weaknesses are well documented by the Auditor-General. For instance, in the report of the municipal audit outcomes presented in July 2021, the AG confirmed the audit results of the outgoing administration showed little improvement.”

He said the 2021 state of local government report highlighted the fact that 64 municipalities are dysfunctional and that they need urgent support. Mabuza also said that the municipalities are characterised by infighting, poor weak decision making, performance, revenue collection, among others.

In this regard, the Deputy President said CoGTA and the National Treasury are working in collaboration with other sector departments, as well as the SA Local Government Association (SALGA) to develop implementation plans to address the issues identified in the report.

“One of the critical areas needing prioritisation is the network infrastructure investment and maintenance, especially fixing the water and sanitation infrastructure.”

The Deputy President called on Parliament to prioritise support and to improve its oversight function on local government affairs. He also said government and Parliament should work together to ensure that municipalities have political stability and focus on people-centred service delivery.

Source: South African Government News Agency