SAMWU 2020 Budget Expectation

25 February 2020

SAMWU 2020 Budget Expectation

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) looks forward to the Budget Speech due to be delivered by Finance Minister on Wednesday 26th February. We expect the budget to speak to the needs of South African workers and the ailing economy which needs rejuvenation for a better outlook and the creation of a conducive environment for job creation and economic growth.

We particularly expect the Budget Speech to speak to the collapse in governance and service delivery in the country’s municipalities. It is a fact that municipalities are facing challenges and as such, they have failed to live up to their constitutional mandate of service delivery. Evidence has proven that the challenges which municipalities face are financial in nature with the previous Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs having have pointed out that the country’s municipalities are in such a poor state that only 7% are functional with 33% being dysfunctional.

Currently municipalities are not only failing to deliver services to residents but are also failing on their contractual obligations towards their employees in that employees are never paid on time while some municipalities are months in arrears on third parties such as medical aid, pension fund, union subscriptions and funeral policies.

As SAMWU, we are convinced that the challenges which municipalities find themselves in are as a result of the current funding model which the country’s municipalities are subjected to. When developing the budget, the National Treasury always underfunds municipalities in that all the country’s 257 municipalities are expected to deliver services to the almost 60 million residents on less than 10% of government expenditure in the form of division of revenue.

The skewed and unbalanced funding of local government, which is in the coalface of service delivery, has resulted in municipalities resorting to the use of Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP) as conveyor belts for cheap labour. The use of EPWP in the delivery of services is not only inhuman but goes against the letter and spirit of service delivery. These programmes are exploitative in nature and do not address the issue of unemployment, inequality and poverty in the country.

EPWP and similar programmes were sold to residents as poverty alleviation programmes but instead have increased the casualisation of labour. SAMWU considers EPWP participants as municipal workers as they are delivering services which will forever be required by municipalities yet they are not remunerated equally for doing the same job. It is for this reason that SAMWU has and will always be opposed to the delivery of municipal services through EPWP and similar programmes.

The union’s 11th National Congress resolved that these workers should be permanently and directly employed by municipalities with job security and same benefits as those given municipal workers. A fairer and just equitable share will allow municipalities to be in a better position to absorption all EPWP participants as permanent employees of municipalities and filling of vacancies in municipalities.

We are very concerned by the failure of municipalities to fill funded vacancies which now stands almost 40%. The failure to fill these vacancies has not only compromised service delivery but also hindered municipalities in playing a role of local economic development and as such they have become to the country’s high unemployment rates, particularly among the youth.

National Treasury’s failure to properly and sufficiently fund municipalities has also resulted in municipalities reneging on their constitutional mandate of the delivery of services to South Africans and the forever ballooning debt to Eskom. It cannot be correct that we are told that municipalities have to collect their own revenue to be able to fund their operations while other sectors of government do not generate any revenue at all yet they are heavily funded. We are of the firm view that municipalities do not exist for profit making but their existence is purely to fulfil their constitutional mandate of delivering services to South Africans.

We, therefore, expect the Finance Minister as the custodian of the nation’s fiscus, to announce an increase in equitable share to municipalities, we believe that such an increase will ensure that South Africans benefit from the services which are supposed to be delivered by municipalities. We further believe that a fairer equitable share would ensure that municipalities are relieved of their debts to Eskom, ensure that salaries and third parties are paid on time.

We further expect the Minister to announce plans to work along with along with the COGTA in assisting municipalities to put in place proper revenue collection mechanisms, such mechanisms should however not be intended to exclude the poor and those who cannot afford to pay from receiving services from municipalities.

In fact, due the levels of high unemployment and poverty in the country, we hope that the Minister will announce the continuation of providing financial assistance to municipalities to provide free basic services to those who cannot afford them, in particular the poor. We are of the firm view that South Africans should not be denied basic services as a result of their financial situations, historical financial situations which are not of their own making.

Workers and the working class cannot be punished for financial situations which are not of their own making, it if for this reason that SAMWU would oppose any increase in Value Added Tax (VAT). South African Municipal Workers will not allow a situation wherein they are made to subsidise the state or to be punished for an economic crisis they did not create through an increase in income tax to cover any shortfall.

In delivering the Budget Speech, we do not expect the Minister to preempt the outcomes of salary and wage negotiations in all spheres of government by dictating to government negotiators to not giving workers an increase above a certain limit. This has been a practice which we have noted with concern as it dilutes the rights of workers to collective bargaining.

We have also noted talk from government circles that the public service is bloated and as such encouraging government employees to go on early retirement. We do not anticipate the minister to speak of workers going on early retirement, the country already has unacceptably high levels of poverty, unemployment and inequality and as such it would not make sense to add on to these high numbers.

SAMWU is currently in the process of mandate taking in anticipation of the salary and wage negotiations which will be commencing later on this year. We therefore as such do not expect SALGA negotiators to tell municipal workers that they cannot exceed a certain limit as per the directive from National Treasury, we will further not allow a situation wherein SALGA pleads poverty in the negotiations as we will send them to National Treasury to get the money they need.

The challenges faced by the country’s municipalities are financial in nature and as such can be remedied by a greater and fairer equitable share from National Treasury, this in the interest of stabilizing local government and service delivery.

Issued by SAMWU Secretariat

Koena Ramotlou,
General Secretary
(073 254 9394),


Dumisane Magagula,
Deputy General Secretary
(084 806 4005)


Papikie Mohale,
National Media Officer
(073 710 0356)