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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

Malfeasance in municipalities a threat to constitutional order – Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered keynote address at the South African Human Rights Council National (SAHRC) Conference.

President Cyril Ramaphosa says malfeasance in many municipalities in the country is a threat to the constitutional order.

The president was delivering the keynote address at the South African Human Rights Council‘s (SAHRC) National Conference on local governance in Sandton on Thursday.

Only 16% of South Africa’s 257 municipalities were given a clean audit by the auditor general for the 2020-21 financial year, with the overall standard of financial management having regressed in the past five years.

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Forty-one municipalities received a clean audit with no findings, while 100 received unqualified audits with findings, with 25 municipalities receiving disclaimers, meaning that their financial statements cannot be relied upon.

Ramaphosa said the National Treasury classifies two thirds of South Africa’s 257 municipalities as being in financial distress, with only 41 receiving clean audits in the past financial year.

“What this means is that many municipalities are unable to deliver basic services and are unable to build new schools, upgrade clinics and hospitals, and fix roads,” Ramaphosa said.

“We are alive to the reality that failures at local government level are widening the trust deficit between government and the citizenry. Unless these are remedied, we run the risk that the South African people become disillusioned with democracy itself.”

Ramaphosa however said there is positive improvement.  

“According to the latest state of local government report, the number of stable municipalities has increased from 16 to 31 across the country. Now that may not be a great figure, but there is movement in a positive way.”

“With KwaZulu-Natal registering the most improvements followed by North West. Now this is incremental progress that we must build on from a broken system and rebuild it, reposition it and recalibrate it,” Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa added that efficient and affordable service delivery could mark the difference between leading a life of dignity, as promised by the Constitution, and a life of squalor, misery and deprivation.

“Those deployed at local government level need to recommit themselves to our constitutional values,” Ramaphosa said.

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