The Municipal Demarcation Board has admitted that redrawing boundaries for over 21 municipalities in the run up to the 2016 municipal elections placed a massive financial strain on the organisation.
“Total expenditure for the year under review amounted to R64,737,000, compared to R52,424,000 in 2014/15, representing a year on year increase of 23,5%,” CEO Dithabe Nkoane said in the group’s annual review.
“This resulted in a deficit of R18,449,000. This deficit was mainly due the determination and/or re-determination of boundaries of dysfunctional and non-viable municipalities, as well as ward delimitations,” he concluded.
According to the report, the delimitation process resulted in the number of South African municipalities being slashed from 278 to 257 from the date of the municipal elections.
Prior to and after the new (1996) constitutional dispensation, the number of local government bodies were reduced from 1,262 to 843 local authorities, it said.
The MDB then commenced with a further rationalisation process in 1999/2000 which saw the number of municipalities reduced from 834 to 284 in 2000; from 284 to 283 in 2006; and from 283 to 278 in 2011.
The annual report follows growing discontent surrounding the changing of municipal borders in 2016 – most notably in Vuwani, Limpopo, where at least 50 schools were either vandalised or burned down during protests against municipal demarcation decisions.
The increased delimitation and demarcation also came under increased pressure from opposition parties, including the DA, who stalled several mergers over the course of 2016 through court proceedings.