The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) in the Free State province is saddened by the current state of affairs of the municipalities in the province. Local government in the province has completely collapsed.
As the Auditor General Kimi Makwetu released the 2017/18 municipal audit outcomes, we were not surprised that not even a single municipality managed to receive a clean audit as we were anticipating such an outcome based on the evidence and daily experiences of our members on the ground.
Municipalities in the province have become a playground for corrupt and fraudulent activities. Just a few weeks ago, the Hawks made arrests in Maluti-a-Phofung and Mathjabeng municipalities for fraud and corruption. In addition to this, the AG has revealed that in the Metsimaholo Municipality, R29 million was budgeted for a sports field but during their visit they only found a fence erected at a cost of R27 million.
The AG further indicated that municipalities in the province have displayed a total collapse of internal controls and that the political leadership has once again failed to put in place lasting solutions to the challenges that are faced by municipalities.
SAMWU is convinced that COGTA in the Free State has been complicit in the collapse of municipalities. The department is now acting as a fire brigade by extinguishing fires which were not supposed to be there in the first place. It has been common knowledge for the department that their municipalities are struggling yet no corrective measures had been put in place to ensure a long and lasting solution.
What pains us the most is that the department was nowhere to be found when workers received notification that their salaries will not be paid on time this month. The department is also aware that Naledi and Maluti-a-Phofung municipalities have been deducting money from workers but not paying it over to third parties such as SARS, medical aid and pension fund.
Our conviction of the complicity of Free State COGTA is supported by the AG who argues that the failure by the provincial leadership to take decisive action in implementing constitutional prescripts has resulted in the continuous degeneration of municipalities’ financial health, leading to R6.1 billion deficit.
Essentially municipalities in the province do not have money, they are broke and as such, they will not be able to continue on their mandate of the delivery of services to the residents of the province unless decisive and drastic actions are taken.
We, therefore, demand that the Free State COGTA should up its game and attend to the real issues affecting municipalities otherwise, they should just hand over the control and oversight of these municipalities to national COGTA as they are unwilling and unable to arrest the decline of municipalities, much to the detriment of service delivery.
Issued by SAMWU Free State Province