​No money? No problem! SA's municipalities splurge on entertainment they can’t afford

"The top five entertainment spenders spent about 50% of their respective municipalities’ total income on entertainment." (Photo: M&G)

"The top five entertainment spenders spent about 50% of their respective municipalities’ total income on entertainment." (Photo: M&G)

Several local municipalities have racked up millions of rands in entertainment bills that far exceed their income.

With the audit season in full swing, the Mail & Guardian compares the income of the 225 local municipalities with their entertainment spend. Together they splurged R17 786 000 on entertainment in the second quarter of 2015 although their collated income was just shy of R14-million.

The bulk of their income comes from national and provincial government, property rates and taxes, and external investments.

The top five entertainment spenders spent about 50% of their respective municipalities’ total income on entertainment. Relatively, some of the more obscure ones spent the most, according to the quarterly financial statistics for municipalities from Statistics South Africa.

The North West’s Kagisano-Molopo local municipality, near the border with Botswana, forked out just over R4-million on entertainment. Its income for the same period was R36 753.

Sun City’s Moses Kotane local municipality is the second biggest entertainment spender, splurging some R1.3-million, with an income of R78 080.

The Mbhashe local municipality in the Eastern Cape had R31 000 in its coffers, but spent more than R400 000 on entertainment.

Some municipalities did not receive any income during the quarter in review, but spent tens of thousands of rands on entertainment. Seated in Qumbu, on the outskirts of rural Mthatha, the Mhlontlo local municipality spent more than R100 000 on entertainment but did not generate any income.

At R2.1-million, the combined expenditure of Eastern Cape municipalities on entertainment is among the highest overall — but it still comes in second to the combined expenditure of municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal, where more than R3-million was spent on entertainment.

Athandiwe Saba

Athandiwe Saba

Athandiwe Saba is a multi award-winning journalist who is passionate about data, human interest issues, governance and everything that isn’t on social media. She is an author, an avid reader and trying to find the answer to the perfect balance between investigative journalism, online audiences and the decline in newspaper sales. It’s a rough world and a rewarding profession. Read more from Athandiwe Saba

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