President Cyril Ramaphosa says the people of South Africa expect and are entitled to local governments that serve them and uphold their right to dignity.
He says all spheres of government must work together to ensure that municipalities are able to fulfill their responsibilities.
The President’s remarks follow the Auditor -General’s damning findings that only 38 of South Africa’s municipalities received clean audits.
The 2021/22 Municipal Audit Outcomes also revealed that by the end of the financial year 52% of all municipalities owed their creditors more money than they had available as they continued to spend money they did not have.
The total deficit for the year in local government amounted to R11.87 billion.
Ramaphosa says the Auditor -General’s findings are serious and need a coordinated response.
He used his weekly newsletter to acknowledge that efforts to improve the lives of South Africans will only succeed when challenges in local government are addressed.
Ramaphosa says while many municipalities are in great financial difficulty, they often do not spend the grants they are allocated by the national government.
“In the last year, around 88 municipalities failed to spend at least 10% of their Municipal Infrastructure Grant, which is supposed to be used for eradicating infrastructure backlogs,” says Ramaphosa.
The President’s Coordinating Council (PCC), which consults with local government, found that a number of municipalities do not have sufficient funds to implement programmes and projects.
This often results in those municipalities not being able to collect for key services like water and electricity.
“It is imperative that municipalities must have credible, sustainable and well-managed revenue collection programmes that apply fair and equitable standards to all customers.”
Ramaphosa also stressed that it’s important for citizens to play their part in paying for services.
The PCC made a few recommendations, including that National Treasury and the Department of Cooperative Governance, should develop measures to further support and strengthen municipal revenue collection systems with urgency.