A report prepared for parliament’s portfolio committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) shows that the vast majority of South Africa’s municipalities are in dire financial straits.
In a presentation on Wednesday (25 August), officials from the department categorised the country’s major municipalities into four main categories:
- High-risk dysfunctional (Red);
- Medium risk (Orange);
- Low risk (Yellow);
- Stable (Green).
These categories are further considered alongside a number of indicators including their political situation, the state of their governance, their financial management and the level of service delivery.
Using these metrics, 64 municipalities (24.9%) are considered high-risk and dysfunctional, while 111 municipalities are considered medium-risk (111).
By comparison, only 16 municipalities (5.45%) are considered stable – with the vast majority of these municipalities located in the Western Cape, led by the Democratic Alliance.
Other concerning data from the presentation shows that:
- 163 municipalities are under financial duress;
- 108 municipalities have unfunded budgets;
- 29 municipalities have been placed under administration.
South Africa’s declining municipalities have long been a source of concern for the government, with Cogta minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma championing a district-based model to close the ‘disconnect’ between government at a national and local level.
Dlamini-Zuma said that the model seeks to strengthen the local sphere of governance – moving away from silo planning, budgeting and implementation.
She said that the new model will provide for a “more tangible, common vision for development” of the country.
“By adopting a long term view and interconnecting the local economies we are able to re-imagine a better community, district and nation.”
To assist at a local government level, Dlamini-Zuma said that government plans to employ skilled people at ‘district hubs’ so that they may avail shared skills that local municipalities lack.
“The hubs form part of the district’s capacity and will link the localities to provinces and national departments,” she said.
The hubs will also house critical and scarce skills such as engineers, planners, ICT specialists and administrators, to the districts and local municipalities.
Dlamini-Zuma said that the district model will also see budget changes across government, with the ultimate goal of unifying finances into a singular budget.