Underfunded mandates put the lives of Gauteng residents at risk

Unfunded mandates are beginning to place a huge burden on local and district municipalities at a great cost to basic service delivery to the residents.

An unfunded mandate occurs when national government gives the local and district municipalities less money than what they spent on providing a service from their budget so they need to absorb the additional costs which they often can’t afford to do.

This is deeply concerning as our residents pay their rates and taxes and in return expect to receive proper service delivery which these local and district municipalities are unable to deliver because of unfunded mandates.

This information was revealed to me by the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Lebogang Maile.

Currently, critical basic services in the West Rand District Municipality (WRDM) such as Fire and Rescue, the Disaster Management Service and Municipal Health Services are the worst affected by the unfunded and underfunded mandates.

This is extremely worrying as it means that when a health emergency or fire emergency breaks outs, the municipality will not be able to respond in time putting the lives of our resident’s health and homes at risk.

According to MEC Maile for the last two financial years, the underfunded mandate amounted to R225 128 791,08.

Furthermore, it is disappointing that no action has been taken as recommended by the financial recovery plan for the transfer of the fire services to Merafong, Mogale and Rand West City Local Municipality. While Disaster Management and Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) would be moved to the provincial government.

Instead, according to the MEC, a task team was set up and a stakeholder meeting was held on 21 January 2022, to discuss the placement of fire services with national and provincial disaster management.

While disaster management is a concurrent national and provincial legislative competence, the function is mandated by an Act of Parliament and Disaster Management is regulated by an Act of Parliament.

Therefore, any change to the delivery of this function must be effected through an amendment.

This response from the MEC clearly shows that there is no political will to ensure that our residents who pay for their basic services can rely on the government to deliver on its core mandate.

I will once again be engaging with the MEC for Finance and e-Government on this matter as the status quo cannot remain. We cannot have a situation where our resident’s property is destroyed especially now with the upcoming winter season because there are insufficient fire trucks to respond to multiple emergencies that may flare up in the affected communities.

It is high time that unfunded and underfunded mandates are a thing of the past as it is nearly impossible to deliver proper services to our residents in the province. This can only be done if the national government ensures that the district and local municipalities in Gauteng are well equipped with the necessary skills needed to ensure that all mandates are fully funded.