SAMWU Cautiously Welcome Administration of NW Municipalities

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) notes and cautiously welcomes the decision by the North West Provincial Government to place a further 7 municipalities under administration in terms of Section 139(1) (a) and (b) of the country’s Constitution. This decision takes the total number of municipalities in the province which are under the control of the Provincial Government to 15 or 68% of the province’s total municipalities. 

The fact that 68% of municipalities in one province have been placed under administration is cause for concern. We, however, trust that the decision to intervene in these municipalities has been taken in the interest of service delivery and to ensure the financial stability of these municipalities. Municipalities which adds to this list are; JB Marks, Mamusa, Christina Tlou, Tswaing, Lekwa Teemane, Madibeng and the Dr Ruth Mompati District Municipality.

Municipalities which have been recently placed under administration were identified by the  Department of  Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) last year as priority municipalities. According to COGTA,  of the country’s 253 municipalities, 31% are on the brink of dysfunctionality while  31% are already dysfunctional. The current state of the country’s municipalities has therefore compromised the quality of services rendered to residents. 

As SAMWU, we have vested interest in seeing municipalities which are functional and are responsive to the needs of South Africans as municipalities are the coalface of service delivery. 

We therefore cautiously welcome the decision to intervene in these municipalities. Our concern is that this is not the first time that some of these municipalities such as Madibeng have been placed under administration. This means that the intervention provided by the Provincial Government merely cured the symptoms of the challenges faced by these municipalities and not the root cause of the challenges themselves hence providing a short term relief instead of providing a much needed permanent solution.

This suggests to us that a one size fits all approach had been applied in these municipalities without consultations with organised labour which would have been in a better position to shed light on the real challenges faced by these municipalities. 

The challenged faced by the country’s municipalities are largely financial in nature. In releasing the 2016/17 municipal audit outcomes last year, the Auditor General noted that municipalities have been on a constant regression. Good and clean governance is slowly being eroded in municipalities, this has been a man-made challenge as a result of the lack of political will to act against those in the wrong. 

We, therefore, urge the COGTA department to formulate policies and laws which would ensure that municipal management and politicians are held personally liable for the collapse of municipalities. We also want to see politicians and management held criminally liable for irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure based on municipal audit outcomes by the Auditor General.

As the 6th administration prepares for office, we urge the COGTA department to continue with the work of stabilizing municipalities, particularly those in North West and Free State Provinces. The country cannot afford to have municipalities which continue to compromise service delivery. 

Issued by SAMWU Secretariat