AfriForum launches municipal watchdog

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AfriForum's headquarters in Centurion. Picture: Jacques Nelle

Afrikaner lobby group AfriForum on Tuesday launched a research centre for local government to look into the deteriorating service delivery of many local municipalities.

The organisation’s strategic advisor said the research centre would be a watchdog and conduct research on municipal governance. It would also seek to find new ways to salvage service delivery in municipalities.

This follows AfriForum’s North West municipal report, which revealed that a number of municipalities had been plagued by issues of lack of service delivery, administrative, financial and management deficit, with a few of them not submitting their financial statements for audit.

According to AfriForum, lack of proper weekly refuse removal, sewage collection and disposal, maintenance of roads, repairs potholes and water supply problems were some of the main issues said to be sinking the performance of most municipalities in the province.

“Poor audits and misappropriation are at the order of the day and simply do not improve. While figures related to housing looks quite good, it must be noted that it is a provincial authority and not that of municipalities. The condition and quality of landfill sites, rubbish removal, drinking water, sewerage, as well as the unemployment levels all indicate towards a long-standing crisis,” said Brink.

ALSO READ: AfriForum report gives failing marks for NW municipalities

He also said none of the municipalities in the province were performing well. The highest ranking municipalities were Potchefstroom, Ventersdrop and JB Marks local municipality with a total rating of four out of ten.

“Many communities do not enjoy weekly refuse removal by their municipalities or even at all and water supply is still extremely challenging.”

“The financial and administrative management of the municipalities is extremely poor and has been for a long time. None of them have recently received a clean audit and many of them received an opinion of disclaimer with findings in the 2018-19 financial year,” Brink added.

According to the Auditor-General’s 2019-20 general report for national and provincial government and their entities, the levels of irregular expenditure continued to be very high due to the culture of non-compliance created by the lack of investigations and consequences against those responsible which explained the “fruitless and wasteful expenditure” by the municipalities.

“The cumulative balance of irregular expenditure stood at R27.2 billion. Auditees under administration made slight progress in dealing with irregular expenditure with the cancellation of certain irregular contracts.”

“Overall, financial health regressed with 32% of the auditees, being the North West department of human settlements and five public entities, requiring intervention to remain viable,” said Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke in a report.

The organisation explained that one of the worst municipalities was the Ratlou local municipality – which had water supply problems, 0,4% of the households had a flush toilet connected to a sewerage system and only 0,1% of households were provided with weekly refuse removal.

AfriForum head of community development Johan Kruger said the report shows that all these municipalities are weak and unable to fulfil their constitutional mandate however many of these issues are affecting a number municipalities around the country and not just in the North West.

“To a large extent municipality management and service delivery are in the ICU, with many municipalities on life support.”

Reitumetse Makwea / The Citizen