Free State municipalities fail audit badly

The civil rights organisation AfriForum did an audit of Free State municipalities and found that service delivery in the province is rotten. The lack of recent data from the state to measure important indicators further complicates the situation.

As in other provinces, aspects such as demography, socio-economic conditions, service delivery and the management of municipalities were measured. In the Free State, the impression points out of 10 varies from four in Dihlabeng (Bethlehem) to 0,5 in Tokologo (Boshoff).

Dr Eugene Brink, Manager of AfriForum’s Centre for Local Government Affairs, says the data shows a disturbing picture of this once proud province. “The Auditor General’s (AG) results undeniably show how poorly the Free State’s municipalities are managed. She particularly deplores the lack of leadership that leads to the misuse of funds and waste. In some of the places where only AfriForum conducts tests, the drinking water is of decent quality. However, the quality of landfills and wastewater is poor and keeps deteriorating.

“As in other dysfunctional rural provinces, such as North West, education is improving but the unemployment rate – especially among the youth – remains stubbornly high. Having more learners pass matric is useless if they cannot find work. Moreover, education is a provincial competence, not a municipal one.”

According to Brink, the quality-of-service delivery in different municipalities differs hugely. “For example, only about 15% of households in the Setsoto Local Municipality (Ficksburg and Senekal) have access to tap water in their homes compared to about 65% in Metsimaholo (Sasolburg). The figure for weekly garbage disposal in Metsimaholo is 78,3% compared to only 37% in Tokologo (Boshoff).”

Brink is particularly worried about the problems in Mangaung (Bloemfontein). “The data in this report confirms again that this is the worst metro in the country. Large sums are irregularly spent and wasted while the city’s service delivery is notoriously deficient in every way.”

According to Morné Mostert, Manager of Local Government Affairs at AfriForum, none of the levels of government act in accordance with constitutional requirements. “It is clear that the government cannot provide basic services to communities. The province shows that political ties and influence are protected rather than giving effect to constitutional provisions. While the ANC is protected, communities are still without effective, sustainable service delivery.”

Click here to read the full report.

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