SAMWU cautiously welcomes National Treasury intervention in struggling municipalities.
11 November 2021
The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) notes and cautiously welcomes the decision by the National Treasury to intervene and assist struggling municipalities in the country. In delivering the Mid Term Budget Policy Statement, Minister Gogongwana announced that the National Treasury will be assisting 43 municipalities that are facing financial crisis and a further 100 that are on the brink of financial challenges.
The Minister further indicated that there are specified expected causes of actions that will have to be taken by Provincial Governments where there are struggling municipalities. The Minister was however not properly briefed by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) of the magnitude of the challenges faced by the country’s municipalities. According to COGTA’s local government barometer, 64 municipalities are currently dysfunctional, 111 on the brink of dysfunctionality while only 16 out of 257 are stable.
The challenges faced by these municipalities are financial in nature, in Kopanong Local Municipality in the Free State, workers have not been paid their salaries for three months. In several municipalities across the country, money for third parties such as medical aid, pension fund and funeral policies is deducted from workers’ salaries but this money is never paid to the third parties, resulting in policy lapses.
The challenges faced by municipalities indeed necessitates the need for intervention by National and Provincial governments to ensure that municipalities are stabilised to ensure continued and improved service delivery to the county’s residents. We have previously seen Provincial Governments intervening in municipalities through Section 139 yet this has not the root causes of the challenges faced by municipalities.