Five out of six local municipalities in Gauteng, governed by the ANC, have submitted unfunded budgets for the 2021/2022 municipal financial year. Additionally, two district municipalities in the province have also provided unfunded budgets.
The only local municipality to have submitted a pro-poor budget is the DA-led Midvaal Local Municipality, which has a steady record of consistent sound financial management.
This information was revealed to me in a written reply to my questions tabled to the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Lebogang Maile. According to the MEC, the following seven municipalities have been compelled to develop credible action plans to improve the funding of their budgets:
- West Rand District Municipality
- Rand West City Local Municipality
- Merafong Local Municipality
- Mogale City Local Municipality
- Sedibeng District Municipality
- Emfuleni Local Municipality
- Lesedi Local Municipality
Failure to adequately provide a sustainable budget that directly addresses basic services can have a devastating impact on residents. Some of the most blatant looting of public funds — while service delivery continues crumbling — often takes place within local municipalities.
Merafong is a case in point, where municipal services are delivered on a rotating basis between the wards, as there is not enough funding due to past mismanagement and corruption.
Having unfunded budgets at local municipal level has become common practice over the years.
It is clear that the above ANC-led municipalities care little about the needs of the people and fail to provide basic services on a regular basis.
Meanwhile Gauteng residents continue experiencing substandard service delivery or none at all, because the political leadership of these municipalities lack the expertise and political will to ensure that their yearly budgets are properly funded.
The Auditor-General’s (AG) report has consistently over the years painted an undesirable picture of billions of rand in funds allocated to municipalities being mismanaged “in ways contrary to the prescripts and recognised accounting disciplines”.
Yet we continue to see this trend, with no concerted effort being made by the governing party to implement the AG’s report and stem the flagrant abuse of ratepayers’ money, crippling the engines that drive local government, as well as the local economies.