Mpumalanga municipalities fail to deliver services to informal settlements

The latest financial audit performance snapshot on municipalities in Mpumalanga highlights a systemic decline, according to the latest auditor general’s report, titled Not Much to Go Around, Yet Not the Right Hands at the Till

 “The audit outcomes indicate that internal controls did not work effectively at almost any of the municipalities in the province,” according to the report, released in July. This is despite the fact that these municipalities spent a total of R95-million on financial reporting in the financial year 2018-2019. 

All municipalities in Mpumalanga, except the eHlanzeni district municipality, are reported to have appointed consultants in the financial units to do the work of employed staff. Employee cost across the municipalities averaged about 30% of the total municipal budget. This is eating into money intended for delivery of services.   

Most municipalities failed to spend conditional grants for infrastructure development and maintenance from the national government intended. For instance, the Bushbuckridge local municipality spent less than 1% of its budget and remained with a balance of R3.13-billion on the last day of the financial year, and the City of Mbombela local municipality didn’t spend all of its grant, leading to R101.8-million being taken back by the treasury. 

Mountainview informal settlement. (Planact)

The report also points to “blatant disregard of compliance with key legislation with no consequences”. It notes that despite the previous report highlighting areas of concern and recommending action to remedy the situation, municipalities “did not investigate any unauthorised, irregular or fruitless and wasteful expenditure” and the trend persists. Local municipalities in Mpumalanga listed for inaction in this regard included Albert Luthuli, Dipaleseng, eMakhazeni, eMalahleni, Lekwa, Msukaligwa and Thaba Chweu. 


The political and administrative leadership in Mpumalanga local government is criticised in the report for not demonstrating decisiveness in dealing with the deteriorating internal control environment, allowing unethical behaviour, misconduct and a culture of no consequences in the process. 

This condition may indeed facilitate theft and fraud — a number of financially distressed municipalities in the province could not be resuscitated even with assistance from the provincial task teams dispatched to implement financial recovery plans. 

Delivery of basic services? 

Planact, a nonprofit organisation that has been supporting people’s call for transparency and accountability at local governance level since 1985, is collaborating with the residents of a cluster of informal settlement to collectively advocate for  improved participation in local governance processes and service delivery issues. This approach intends to exert pressure on local, provincial and national governments.

In eMalahleni local municipality, the residents in a cluster of more than 10 informal settlements have been trying to work with municipal officials. The Covid-19 lockdown disrupted a scheduled meeting in March with the mayor, Linah Malatjie. Top on the agenda was to address a backlog of housing, inadequate toilets and water supply and poor public participation in local government, which would also help hold public officials accountable. 

Sewer running from chemical toilets in Kameeldrift informal settlement. (Photo: Planact)

Local government is charged with providing basic services, including temporary services, people living in informal settlements in eMalahleni have to dig their own pit toilets or use the veld. Refuse is not removed and they don’t have an adequate supply of water. This endangers residents’ health, particularly during a pandemic.

The eMalahleni local municipality — where Planact has worked for more than 10 years — recorded 62% achievement of its targets in relation to service delivery. But the situation hasn’t improved in informal settlements.

A simple reading of the auditor general’s report shows that pouring money into the leaky bucket of local government service delivery systems will not translate to better services. 

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Chelesile Ndlovu-Nachamba
Chelesile Ndlovu-Nachamba is a community development communicator. She is a Resource and Communication Coordinator at Planact.
Siphiwe Segodi
Siphiwe Segodi is a Programme Coordinator at Planact. He is interested in social justice and has been involved in social movements since 2001. He is currently pursuing International Politics BA Honours degree.

Related stories

Klipgat residents left high and dry

Flushing toilets were installed in backyards in the North West, but they can’t be used because the sewage has nowhere to go

Khaya Sithole: The decline and fall of the South African auditing profession

Its reputation is not being helped at all by the crisis at its independent regulatory body

Kimi Makwetu’s legacy: Auditing as a social and moral contract

As a seasoned professional in the field of auditing, Kimi Makwetu’s characterisation of his trade as more than just a profession was reflective of the alchemy between his sense of public duty and the commitment to professionalism

Q&A Sessions: Kimi Makwetu on when you hear the money ‘crying out for help’

The smoke signal comes from irregular expenditure and over the past seven years, there has been about R1.65-billion of it. Auditor general Kimi Makwetu tells Athandiwe Saba that this is when the squandered money cries for help

A healthy Mabuza appears in Parliament

After a lengthy absence from public life, Deputy President David Mabuza returns to Parliament, providing assurances that rolling blackouts are temporary

Auditor general points to the state’s flaws enabling Covid-19 graft

AG Kimi Makwetu’s ‘real-time’ audit of contracts and relief schemes indicate ‘a higher risk of fraud and abuse of funds’
Advertising

Subscribers only

Dozens of birds and bats perish in extreme heat in...

In a single day, temperatures in northern KwaZulu-Natal climbed to a lethal 45°C, causing a mass die-off of birds and bats

Q&A Sessions: Frank Chikane on the rainbow where colours never...

Reverend Frank Chikane has just completed six years as the chairperson of the Kagiso Trust. He speaks about corruption, his children’s views and how churches can be mobilised

More top stories

Eusebius McKaiser: Mpofu, Gordhan caught in the crosshairs

The lawyer failed to make his Indian racist argument and the politician refused to admit he had no direct evidence

Corruption forces health shake-up in Gauteng

Dr Thembi Mokgethi appointed as new health MEC as premier seeks to stop Covid-19 malfeasance

Public-private partnerships are key for Africa’s cocoa farmers

Value chain efficiency and partnerships can sustain the livelihoods of farmers of this historically underpriced crop

Battery acid, cassava sticks and clothes hangers: We must end...

COMMENT: The US’s global gag rule blocks funding to any foreign NGOS that perform abortions, except in very limited cases. The Biden-Harris administration must rescind it
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…