The findings of the Ratings Afrika Municipal Financial Sustainability Index (MFSI) leave South Africans with bad news as well as good news.
The good news is that there are municipalities that are bucking the national trend of decline. The MFSI findings confirm that the best hope of good services and good value for ratepayers’ money is to live in a municipality that has been under DA control for an extended period of time.
The bad news is that most municipalities are in big trouble. According to Ratings Afrika dysfunctional municipalities need a national bailout of R51 billion to avert financial and institutional collapse – Day Zero for service delivery.
Service delivery, and the prospect of maintaining even the current poor level of service, is in freefall almost everywhere.
The DA does not support the recommendation of a R51 billion bailout for local government, as there is no guarantee that most ANC municipalities are able to put such money to good use.
In municipalities with bad mayors and municipal managers bailout money will only increase the extent of fruitless, wasteful and irregular expenditure. South Africa has already learnt this lesson with zombie state-owned entities whose CEOs and boards are deployed ANC cadres.
Cadre deployment has to be replaced by a merit system that allow municipalities to access the best possible skills in the market, and tenderpreneurship favouring well-connected individuals have to be arrested.
The only way to achieve this is for communities to vote DA on 27 October 2021. The top five municipalities on the MFSI are all governed by the DA. Even under extremely difficult conditions these municipalities have done the best they can for the communities they serve.
In municipalities where DA control was interrupted for a time, as in Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay, recovery will take longer. But there is no doubt that these municipalities have little chance of recovery under ANC control.
The hard truth is that service delivery and financial sustainability are now in the hands of voters. Only they can hold the local government to account at the ballot box.
Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.