Deputy President David Mabuza awoke from a deep slumber to tell delegates of the National Council of Provinces that the three spheres of government will prioritise service delivery by, among other issues, fixing the sewer flowing in the streets to dry taps and poor roads in the 64 dysfunctional municipalities once councils have elected their leadership.
Mabuza omitted to tell the delegates that these challenges have been there for more than a decade and had cost his party profoundly in the 2021 Local Government Elections as the ANC failed to secure a majority in all councils. Why did the government have to wait for such a long time to fix its mess?
However, perhaps Mabuza pinned his hopes of turning things around by going into coalitions with other parties to repair the severe damage caused by the dysfunctional municipalities operating under the banner of the ANC.
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 prioritized 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.
As if this model had not been in existence before the 64 dysfunctional municipalities plunged the country into a disaster, Mabuza said the 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 dry taps, 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 continues to disrupt services meant for our people. This we are going to do working together as the three spheres of government,” he said.
Again, as if this was not their mandate, Mabuza 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. The government’s rapid response measures aim to address in good time any emerging challenges at the municipal level to prevent the collapse of services to the people, he said.
“Some of the areas that require improvement”, said Mabuza, “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. On a well-known ANC malady, which the organisation is unable to fix, Mabuza also said that the municipalities are characterised by infighting, poor, weak decision making, performance, revenue collection, among others.
“One of the critical areas needing prioritisation is the network infrastructure investment and maintenance, especially fixing the water and sanitation infrastructure,” Mabuza 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 for people-centered service delivery.