Municipalities have over 13% vacancy rate – Stats SA

Gauteng municipal building in Johannesburg city centre. An image from the book Up, Up: Stories of Johannesburg's Highrises (Fourthwall Books, 2016). (Mpho Mokgadi)

Gauteng municipal building in Johannesburg city centre. An image from the book Up, Up: Stories of Johannesburg's Highrises (Fourthwall Books, 2016). (Mpho Mokgadi)

The average vacancy rate at municipalities was more than 13% in 2015, which had a negative impact on local governments’ ability to deliver critical services to residents, said Stats SA statistician general Pali Lehohla.

On Tuesday Stats SA released the annual non-financial census of municipalities, a survey that reflects selected aspects of service delivery of municipalities.

According to the latest report, the highest municipal vacancy rates were recorded in the areas of environmental protection (23%), electricity (20%), road transport (18%), and wastewater management (16%).

The report distinguished between the vacancy rates at district, metropolitan and local municipal level. At a district level, the highest vacancy rate was recorded in the area of electricity provision (41%), in metropolitan areas the most glaring vacancies were with wastewater management (28%) and at local level in the provision of health services (36%).

Of all the provinces, the vacancy rate was the highest in the Free State at 25.6% and the lowest in KwaZulu-Natal at 9.2%.

According to the 2015 report, municipalities identified 3.6m indigent households in 2015 of which 2.4m (67.8%) benefited from water provision, while 2.1m (58.7%) received free basic electricity.

However, 87 796 fewer consumer units (defined as members of a household, or individuals sharing a house) received free basic water, compared to 2014. In addition, 23 444 fewer consumer units benefited from free basic sewerage and sanitation.

According to Lehohla the decrease in the amount of beneficiaries of these free basic services could be attributed to two factors: either municipalities have improved in identifying poorer households, or they are not reaching the people who need these free services the most. – Fin24

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