Mboweni warns of growing intolerance over ‘unimpressive’ local govt performance

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s budget vote speech noted that ‘communities are mobilising against municipal ineptness and are turning to the courts for recourse’.

FILE: Minister Mboweni said there had been an almost zero return on the billions of rand spent over the years trying to build capacity in municipalities. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN – Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said decisive action was needed to stop the rot in municipalities.

Mboweni dealt with the “unimpressive” performance of local government in his budget vote speech on Thursday.

The minister said there had been an almost zero return on the billions of rand spent over the years trying to build capacity in municipalities.

Most of South Africa’s 257 municipalities are in some form of trouble; Mboweni called it ‘when the rubber hits the tar’.

“It’s when you really face reality. Currently, there are 163 municipalities, which are classified as being in financial distress, 40 municipalities are in a financial and service delivery crisis. There are a 102 municipalities who have adopted budgets this year, which they cannot fund. In other words, unfunded budgets,” he said.

“So, we’re facing difficulties. That’s where the rubber hits the tar.”

Mboweni did not deliver all of his prepared speech, which blamed poor leadership, infighting and political meddling.

It warned that communities and businesses were becoming “increasingly intolerant” of municipalities unable to deliver basic services or run themselves properly.

The speech noted that “communities are mobilising against municipal ineptness and are turning to the courts for recourse”.

Mboweni told the house the “unprecedented” 13 April ruling by the Pretoria High Court that the national executive take over the running of Mpumalanga’s Lekwa municipality effectively made him the mayor of the town.

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