Service delivery in North West deteriorating ‘quicker than government can intervene’: AfriForum

07 April 2021 - 07:00
An audit of the state of North West municipalities has revealed that service delivery is deteriorating in the province with most communities facing a water crisis.
An audit of the state of North West municipalities has revealed that service delivery is deteriorating in the province with most communities facing a water crisis.
Image: 123RF/Weerapat Kiatdumrong

AfriForum’s audit of the state of North West municipalities has revealed service delivery is deteriorating in the province.

“Municipal service delivery in the North West is deteriorating quicker than the provincial department of co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) and treasury can intervene. The province has been put under administration over the past few years and this can only show what type of deliveries there are within the province,” said AfriForum’s strategic advisor for community affairs, Dr Eugene Brink.

Brink was speaking at the launch of the organisation’s audit on the quality of life and service delivery in the province.

The organisation also launched its centre for local government which will conduct research on municipal governance and serve as a watchdog and source of information.

It will also find ways to “salvage” service delivery in municipalities, Brink said.

AfriForum said the aim of the municipal audit was to measure the quality of life and level of service delivery in the country’s municipal areas.

“Municipalities are the level of government closest to people and provide many of the important services people depend on to survive and thrive, for example  water and electricity provision  and road maintenance,” the organisation said.

“The additional aim of our audit is to provide an overall picture of municipalities, thereby continuously focusing attention on the state of affairs within these municipalities and their residents.”

In its report on the audit in North West, AfriForum said while the quality of water was reasonable, accessibility was still a problem.

“The state of North West’s municipalities is generally doleful,” the report reads.

“Many communities do not enjoy refuse removal from their municipalities. Piped water in dwellings is still a challenge,” Brink said.

According to the report, the percentage of households with piped water inside dwellings in Matlosana municipality has decreased over the years with only 48.7% of households having access.

“Poorly maintained sewage systems in the municipality have an adverse effect on  pollution of rivers in the area,’ reads the report.

“Another worrying aspect of Matlosana’s management is that its cash balance on June 30  2018 was standing at zero. Therefore, the municipality could not cover even a single day’s operating expenses.”

The audit also revealed the municipality had incurred irregular expenditure of R2.7bn, R141m in unauthorised expenditure and R52.2m in fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

Brink said none of the municipalities had received a clean audit in the 2018/2019 financial year.

In Disobotla municipality, the audit discovered Coligny and Lichtenburg’s sewage treatment processes did not comply with national water quality standards.

“Tests showed more than 10,000 units of E.coli per 100ml of treated sewage in Coligny in 2020. In Lichtenburg this was more than 50,000 units in 2019, although this fell to less than 1,000 in 2020. Both towns’ sewage treatment is rarely classified as clean.”

Brink said the centre for local government would conduct visits to municipalities around the country.

“We call upon government to release information on water,” he said.

Johan Kruger, AfriForum’s head of community development, said municipal management and service delivery were in “ICU” in many municipalities.

“We are in dire straits with many municipalities. We are all about looking at the existing legal spaces for community and private sector involvement in rendering services.

“We must explore those legal spaces and come up with research and development of models we can implement in test cases in SA with a view to coming up with an alternative to the current municipal management model which has failed,” he said.