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Compiled by Kyle Zeeman

Digital News Editor


Almost 90% of municipalities are ‘distressed’ or ‘dysfunctional’

229, or 89.1%, of the country's municipalities are not working properly.


Minister in the Presidency responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Maropene Ramokgopa has painted a grim picture of the state of municipalities in the country, revealing nearly 90% are in trouble.

Answering a parliamentary question on the implementation and progress of the Medium-Term Strategic Framework, Ramokgopa said intersphere coordination and the state of local government was limiting “the capacity of the state to deliver services and achieve developmental outcomes”.

She said 163 municipalities are currently distressed and 66 dysfunctional.

How many municipalities are there?

According to the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, there are 257 municipalities in South Africa. These comprise of eight metropolitan, 44 districts and 205 local municipalities. They are focused on growing local economies and providing infrastructure and service.

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This means 229, or 89.1%, of the country’s municipalities are not working properly.

The Auditor-General’s Municipal Audit released earlier this year found only 38 out of the 257 municipalities, and only two out of the eight metros, achieved clean audits in the 2021/2022 financial year.

Speaking at an ANC NEC meeting briefing this weekend, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Thembi Nkadimeng admitted municipalities are regressing.

“We are seeing a deterioration in almost all our metros and municipalities. Capacity is central. We are working around the clock to assess the municipalities”.

Fixing municipalities

President Cyril Ramaphosa said, “while clean audits are not the only indicator of good service delivery, there is a clear correlation between achieving good audit outcomes and improving services to communities”.

He added local government provided the infrastructure and services to help improve people’s livelihoods. and all spheres of government must work together to make sure municipalities work.

“While many municipalities are in great financial difficulty, they often do not spend the grants they are allocated by the national government. 

ALSO READ: Municipalities are in the sewers

“In the last year, around 88 municipalities failed to spend at least 10% of their Municipal Infrastructure Grant, which is supposed to be used for eradicating infrastructure backlogs. Another challenge is that money that is not allocated for a specific purpose is often misspent,” Ramaphosa said in June.

Dysfunction in municipalities accounted for 185 material irregularities in the 2021-22 financial year, estimated at R3.9 billion and financial loss of R1.6 billion.

In last year’s report, the auditor-general said the financial position of 28% of South African municipalities was so dire that there was “significant doubt” about whether they would be able to continue operating.

Additional reporting by Brian Sokutu

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