The civil rights organisation AfriForum today launched the Centre for Local Government during a media conference, while the North West Municipal Index was also released during the conference.
Dr Eugene Brink, Manager of the research centre, says South Africa has been experiencing a municipal crisis for quite some time already and that is why the search for answers and the fulfilment of a watchdog function are now more important than ever. “Less than 10% of South Africa’s municipalities receive clean audits and most of the clean audits are only recorded in one province, namely the Western Cape. As indicated by this report, rural provinces such as North West are especially in trouble.”
He says from the data available it is clear that the ANC isn’t bothered by service delivery and the proper management of North West’s municipalities. “Poor audits and misappropriation are at the order of the day and simply do not improve. While figures related to housing looks quite good, it must be noted that it is a provincial authority and not that of municipalities. The condition and quality of landfill sites, rubbish removal, drinking water, sewerage, as well as the unemployment levels all indicate towards a long-standing crisis.”
According to him, the idea of the centre is to offer specialist support for the operations of AfriForum Community Affairs. “The centre will investigate local self-governing options for communities and also perform research to illustrate the real state of municipalities. The latter will touch upon matters such as municipal corruption and service delivery. It will thus act as both an intellectual vehicle for self-governance and a municipal watchdog.”
Brink says the local election will this year take place in a time of great economic decline. “It will place huge pressure on municipal budgets and the state was already not able to perform everything even before the COVID-19 pandemic. It will only worsen and communities will inevitably need to find solutions themselves because voting will not merely offer the answers.”
Brink will in the next couple of weeks act as guest speaker regarding various current affairs in many North West towns. Specific dates and venues will be confirmed in due course.