I can anticipate the reply of the ANC and the Honourable MEC to the criticism of the opposition highlighting the overall collapse of municipal financial performance, infrastructure and service delivery. Apartheid will be blamed. As Apartheid is most probably to blame for the cold weather and any uncomfortable situation.
In terms of the Constitution this Department is to oversee and co-ordinate the establishment, monitoring, regulating, strengthening, supporting and capacitating of municipalities. It should further monitor and evaluate the financial performance of municipalities.
Die Departement moet dus ophou om slegs hul skouers op te trek as dit by die haglike munisipale omstandighede kom.
It cannot be denied that the general financial performance and situation of municipalities in the Free State are in turmoil. The deterioration of service delivery and infrastructure haunts municipalities from the Metro to the rural municipalities.
I have used this analogy before: Necrotising Fasciitis is a flesh-eating disease caused by bacteria such as the common Staphylococcus Aureus. It starts with a very small entry wound which gets infected by the bacteria and if untreated rapidly and easily spreads through the subcutaneous tissue until a limb is lost and ultimately the prognosis is death if not effectively treated in time. The same has happened with regards to infrastructure and service delivery collapse. If for example a filter of a water pump is not cleaned or not replaced, a few months later a whole municipal area is without water. If a water pipeline which is already ancient and dates back to Verwoerd’s time is not upgraded a water crisis arises.
A recent research report by the North West University into the Brandfort water crisis has identified 16 of the causes related to poor management by the Masilonyana Local Municipality. The Masilonyana community – black, brown and white – has been suffering for years because of appalling municipal service delivery as regards to water, electricity and sewerage pollution.
The provincial government needs to admit to these crises and needs to urgently address the financial state of municipalities. The financial situations of municipalities will not be solved by exuberant tariff hikes as is currently the attempt.
Over the past five years annual increases in municipal rates and taxes had impacted the economy to the tune of 4 500 lost jobs, as well as lost economic output of some R2,8 billion.
The real cause of this crisis is skewed priorities. How can the extremely high salary bills of municipalities by justified whilst consultants and contractors are procured to render the functions of the appointed officials? How can the extremely high salaries of the mayors of district and local municipalities be justified? How can the exuberant official vehicle purchases by these mayors be justified whilst the very municipalities are facing serious financial constraints?
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