The Democratic Alliance raised serious concerns about the financial health of the ANC-run Merafong Local Municipality at a special council meeting held on the 25th of April 2023. At this meeting, the municipality tabled its financial report in terms of section 71 of the Municipal Finance Management Act. The report showed, amongst other facts, that the municipality had underspent by R597-million, or 37% of its budget up to March 2023. The report also showed that the municipality had underspent on its capital budget by R135-million, or 69%.
The worst underperforming area was infrastructure development, which underspent by a whopping R397-million.
This shows that the municipality is not spending either on maintenance or new projects, despite the dire state of services across the municipality. Large parts of the municipality do not have any working streetlights, and water and energy outages have become normalized. Critical maintenance is backlogged for years. New infrastructure projects are delayed endlessly, and communities in dire need are not getting the services they need.
Even worse, the municipality is in major debt to Eskom for energy supply, which has seen load reduction implemented from time to time in addition to loadshedding. These failures are damaging the economy of the municipality and contributing to increasing poverty and unemployment in the area.
The DA attempted to have the report put to a vote in council but the speaker refused, in violation of the Standing Orders of Council.
It is clear that under the current administration, Merafong Local Municipality is going to continue to fail residents on the basics. The DA will be exploring all mechanisms in the MFMA to both force accountability in the council as well as fight to get services back on track.