Local governments are at the heart of service delivery, but are they working?


Is local government doing its job and what role does national government play in this regard? To answer this question, Africa Melane speaks with Dr Meron Okbandrias, Senior Lecturer at the School of Government at UWC.

Consultants make a lot of money doing basic financial accounting for which municipal managers are already paid.

During the National Assembly debate on Youth Day on Wednesday, the EFF, UDM and DA all blamed the ANC for issues including the unemployment crisis, drug abuse and gender-based violence.

While the national government should be doing more, local governments are at the forefront of community issues and service delivery.

This therefore raises the question: is local government doing its job and what role does national government play in this regard?

The Auditor General’s report shows that financial reporting consultants cost local government R5.31 billion during the previous term and 70% of municipalities hire consultants for each year of the term. In addition, it was deplored that this decision, intended to allow quality financial statements, has not always been carried out.

For example, financial statements submitted for audit in 2020/2021 local government audit results, 59% of municipalities that used consultants revealed material errors.

Over the past 20 years there has been an effort to increase capacity at the local government level, but considering the money that has been spent and the results, we can see that it is not much.

There are two issues here, the lack of proper management and development of skilled labor as well as being better paid in the private sector. There is a migration of skilled labor from the government to the private sector.

Dr Meron Okbandrias, Senior Lecturer at UWC School of Government

The report revealed that around 28% of municipalities were considered to be in financial difficulty, with doubts about the future operation of these areas.

This has been the problem since the dawn of democracy. The officials’ continued self-development, however, does not seem to have made any difference to the officials.

Dr Meron Okbandrias, Senior Lecturer at UWC School of Government.

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