Some Western Cape municipalities the best in the country, but some struggle, report shows

According to the civil rights organisation AfriForum’s Centre for Local Government Affairs municipalities in the Western Cape exceled in many aspects, but not all performed well. This is the conclusion made in an audit of the province’s municipalities that follows the organisation’s previous audits of North West, Gauteng and Mpumalanga.

According to Dr Eugene Brink, Manager of the Centre for Local Government at AfriForum, the municipalities in the Western Cape can overall boast with their condition. “Especially in comparison with the rest of the country’s municipalities, their drinking water is cleaner and more households have tap water in their houses. High percentages of households live in formal housing, has weekly refuse removal and use electricity for lighting.

“14 municipalities in the province received clean audits and it is unheard of in the context of local government in South Africa. Furthermore five municipalities have progressed to clean audits between the past two financial years. This is another rare and commendable phenomenon and something that shows their commitment to responsive and accountable government. Unauthorised and irregular expenses also decreased between the past two financial years.”

Brink says due to theseis reasons a considerable number of these municipalities received scores of more than eight out of ten. “Local municipalities like Witzenberg and Swartland are among the best in the country and the Cape Town Metro is the best metropolitan municipality by far. Our analysis of the other provinces’ municipalities demonstrates this and although clean audits do not necessarily means that everything runs smoothly, there isare indeed a strong connection between the audit results, good management and the quality of service delivery.”

Nevertheless there are also challenges within the province’s municipalities. “The Cape Town Metro did not receive a clean audit and R669 million in irregular expenditure incurred. The Auditor-General (AG) also pointed out that municipalities possess of good financial controls, but not of adequate preventative controls that comply with the laws and regulations. Concern has also been expressed about large sums of money that can no longer be collected and this jeopardises the long term sustainability of some municipalities. The AG singled out Beaufort West, Kannaland and Laingsburg for intervention and for numerous reasons also received weaker scores in the report.”

“Given the total decline of municipal services across South Africa, it is clear that there are still some municipalities with the political will to really deliver services sustainably. We also see that these services predominanately take place in the Western Cape. That is why AfriForum will continue and we have a role to play within the area to ensure that services are continued at this level, but we will also intervene and see how we can work with the various local governments to ensure that the interests of communities are protected,” says Morné Mostert, Manager of Local Government Affairs at AfriForum.

Click here to read the complete report.

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