Sorry state of Cyril’s na­tion

DE­CLINE: COUN­CILS IN FI­NAN­CIAL DIS­TRESS DE­SPITE CYRIL’S PROMISES

The Citizen (KZN) - - Front Page - Sipho Mabena [email protected]­i­zen.co.za

De­spite Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa’s prom­ise of sup­port in last year’s State of the Na­tion ad­dress, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are rapidly col­laps­ing with coun­cils in fi­nan­cial dis­tress up from 64 to 125.

Rapid de­te­ri­o­ra­tion be­cause of ten­der cor­rup­tion and party political dis­putes, says Outa.

Suc­ces­sive in­ter­ven­tions to sta­bilise lo­cal govern­ment an­nounced in pre­vi­ous State of the Na­tion ad­dresses have seem­ingly achieved noth­ing, with the num­ber of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in fi­nan­cial dis­tress dou­bling from 64 to 125 in the past decade.

Data an­a­lyt­ics firm Municipal IQ high­lighted this state of af­fairs in Jan­uary, find­ing that ser­vice de­liv­ery protests against mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties had dou­bled from 107 in 2009 to 218 in 2019.

Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa an­nounced in his last State of the Na­tion ad­dress (Sona) that govern­ment had be­gun sta­bil­is­ing 57 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, with over 10 000 in­fra­struc­ture projects be­ing rolled out.

Ac­cord­ing to Or­gan­i­sa­tion Un­do­ing

Tax Abuse (Outa), for­mer pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma and Ramaphosa had promised to turn around lo­cal govern­ment, but the re­al­ity was that the op­po­site oc­curred. Julius Kleyn­hans, op­er­a­tions ex­ec­u­tive, said mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties con­tinue to de­te­ri­o­rate at an in­creas­ingly rapid rate.

“Many are less fis­cally pru­dent, more sus­cep­ti­ble to ten­der cor­rup­tion and ham­strung by party political dis­putes, re­sult­ing in re­duced main­te­nance and failed ser­vice de­liv­ery.”

Kleyn­hans said an in­creas­ing num­ber of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties were fac­ing col­lapse. Some have been un­able to pay salaries, had their as­sets seized. Makana lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­ity was dis­solved due to ac­tion brought by dis­grun­tled civil so­ci­ety groups but in­stead of ad­dress­ing the col­lapse of that mu­nic­i­pal­ity, the East­ern Cape govern­ment watches while the coun­cil fights their re­moval with pub­lic money.

“Nei­ther the pres­i­dent, nor na­tional, pro­vin­cial or lo­cal govern­ment lead­ers have an un­der­stand­ing of the se­ri­ous­ness of the sit­u­a­tion. Af­ter more than a decade of promises, we find our­selves in a worse po­si­tion than ever,” Kleyn­hans said.

The num­ber of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties dis­es­tab­lished in the same pe­riod is 26, re­duc­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties from 283 to 257.

Michael Holen­stein, Outa’s man­ager for lo­cal govern­ment, said 56 of the 64 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties deemed dis­tressed in 2009, have been clas­si­fied as dis­tressed on more than one oc­ca­sion, with Ma­luti-a-Pho­fung in the Free State hav­ing reap­peared seven times.

He said the Lo­cal Govern­ment Turn­around Strat­egy (LGTS) adopted in 2009, has had no ef­fect. “Nearly every mile­stone was missed.”

Mlungisi Mt­shali, cor­po­ra­tive gover­nance spokesper­son, said they were claw­ing back lo­cal govern­ment’s rep­u­ta­tion.

“Cor­rup­tion un­der­mines govern­ment, but we can­not lose sight of what govern­ment puts in place. We con­nected mil­lions of peo­ple to wa­ter and elec­tric­ity in a very short space of time.”

We’re in a worse po­si­tion than ever

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