This is according to the South African Local Government Association (Salga).
Presenting before members of the Provincial Legislature and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), Salga Provincial Executive Officer, Zanoxolo Futwa, said the state of municipalities in the Free State is appalling and urgent interventions are needed. He said the escalating municipal debts, the level of high vacancies, and irregular and wasteful expenditure across municipalities in the province greatly affects the provision of service delivery.
His statement comes amidst service delivery protests by residents of Soutpan whose demonstration has entered a second day after they were up in arms on Monday over unprotected water reservoirs, sewage spillages and the dysfunctional local library.
Futwa, told the House that some of the major concerns they have about municipalities not only include billions owed to service providers, but ageing infrastructure, and the lack of capacity to deal with mushrooming informal settlements.
The house on Tuesday further heard how municipalities in the province continue to regress on their audit outcomes and how their Eskom debt has escalated to R9.8 billion, with Maluti-A-Phofung alone owing nearly R4 billion.
Futwa, added that many of the municipalities in the province are still failing to draw up proper budget plans or generate revenue, and that they end up not using funds such as the conditional grants accordingly.
His report before the House listed the Letsemeng, Masilonyana, Tokologo, Maluti-A-Phofung, Ngwathe, Mafube and the Mohokare Local Municipalities among some of the distressed Free State Municipalities in high need of recovery plans.
Salga has reiterated that none of the Free State municipalities managed to obtain a clean audit in the last fiscal year and that their state of affairs does not seem to be improving.
Futwa’s presentation was subsequent to the damning reports tabled by the provincial department of finance, as well as the provincial department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta). The two reports indicated how Free State municipalities are in dire straits and how those currently under administration, namely the Maluti-A-Phofung, Masilonyana and Mafube Municipalities continue to plunge into a deeper financial rut.
During her presentation, Finance MEC, Gadija Brown, confirmed before the House that the majority of municipalities are not in a sound financial position and that she has put up a team in her department that specifically looks at the AG reports and measures on how best they can intervene at distressed municipalities.
She told the House that concerns raised by Salga and all other stakeholders are of high importance and vowed to provide financial and non-financial support to municipalities.
Adding to the concerns raised by Salga, was the Auditor-General who highlighted that they have a growing concern over municipalities’ insolvency in the province and across the country at large.
OFM News/KATLEHO MORAPELA