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'This is a crisis' - Ramaphosa bemoans state of municipalities

01 September 2022

President Cyril Ramaphosa is worried about the deepening crisis at most municipalities, which are failing to deliver essential services, such as fixing roads or providing water and clinic services.

The president was delivering the keynote address at a local governance conference hosted by the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in Johannesburg on Thursday.

He said the local government remained the most direct form of governance for South Africans and added that its failures exposed the distinction between someone living in dignity and someone living in squalor.

Previous reports from the Auditor-General, National Treasury and the Cogta department showed that two-thirds of the country's municipalities could be classified as failures. These municipalities could neither build roads, nor provide water and or healthcare due to political infighting, corruption or the inability to adhere to municipal legislation.

Ramaphosa said the failures directly threatened economic growth and added that it was unacceptable that most municipalities continued to fail residents.

Continuing along the current trajectory is neither viable nor sustainable. It undermines the constitutional promise of human dignity. It threatens economic growth and investment.

Public dissatisfaction has led to an increase in protests, the president also pointed out.

In addition, public servants who had unresolved wage disputes also contributed to failures by destroying government infrastructure, as witnessed in the Amathole region of the Eastern Cape, he said.

"Unless these are remedied, we risk the South African people becoming disillusioned with democracy itself. It should at the same time be acknowledged that achieving financially viable and sustainable municipalities cannot be realised in an environment where non-payment for services, both by residents and businesses, has become entrenched," the president added.

Ideas on how municipalities can improve their relationship with communities through a social compact should form part of the solutions the SAHRC conference should formulate, he said.

"The ideal municipality is accessible, provides opportunities for public engagement, and communicates in a manner that considers local needs with respect to language and media platforms. In an ideal municipality, customer care and feedback management systems are functional and implemented effectively," Ramaphosa added.

He said:
In an ideal municipality, local government has regular outreach with communities on matters affecting development and consults other stakeholders, such as businesses, NGOs and community-based organisations. Such cooperative relationships strengthen governance and contribute towards building capacity in communities.

He said "a massive review" was needed.

"We need to ensure that those that are deployed there recommit themselves to the values of our Constitution; those who get involved in maleficence and corruption, are rooted out; and that local government accounts to the people of our country at a level at which local government functions," Ramaphosa said.

Source: New24

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