KAROO NEWS - The Dr Beyers Naudé Local Municipality (DBNLM) is one of 14 municipalities in the Eastern Cape identified by MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Xolile Nqatha, as being in a state of 'distress'.
This was confirmed in his response last week to a parliamentary question from Vicky Knoetze, Shadow, MEC of COGTA.
"Municipalities across the Eastern Cape are in crisis - people across the province are waking up to piles of uncollected rubbish, dry taps, no electricity and deteriorating municipal infrastructure," said Knoetze, in sentiments shared by many frustrated residents of DBNLM.
"Municipal workers and service providers are going unpaid and service delivery has all but ground to a standstill as municipal coffers run dry."
The amalgamation in 2016 of the former Camdeboo, Baviaans and Ikwezi Municipalities has caused much of the financial instability, according to councillor Louwrens Nortjé. "Insufficient funds were allocated by the government for the amalgamation process, and the inherited debt from Ikwezi meant the new municipality got off to a poor start," said Nortjé.
He also claims that the sheer size of the new municipality, with its sparse distribution of population and small urban nodes means there is a low-income base with a disproportionate number of households relying on indigent support. The salary bill has escalated, as the salaries of the employees of the smaller municipalities are raised to meet those of the former Camdeboo.
The equalisation process is an ongoing cause of labour disquiet. According to Nortjé, poor decisions taken with regards to the number of staff appointed after amalgamation contributed to the problem. "There has been weak financial management, and top management salaries are not sustainable with the weak income base," he said. "There has been an under-collection on rates, and distribution losses in electricity and water are very high, due to no control and lack of infrastructure and maintenance," added Nortjé.
Lack of good governance
The DBNLM has received consecutive disclaimers since amalgamation in 2016, with serious findings on fruitless and wasteful as well as unauthorised expenditure identified in the service delivery budget implementation plan (SDIBP).Only 51% of the budget for projects as identified in the Service Delivery Budget Implementation Plan (SDBIP) has been spent for 2018/2019 (the last figures available), according to Nortjé.
Poor service delivery
The vastness of the area (28 653 km²) has led to a decline in service delivery in general, and ageing infrastructure in all the towns causes tremendous problems.
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