SAMWU concerned about the state of SA municipalities, calls for the review of municipal funding model.

25 May 2022

SAMWU concerned about the state of SA municipalities, calls for the review of municipal funding model.

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) has leant with great disappointment the state of the country’s municipalities as presented by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma during the department’s budget vote in Parliament. The budget vote was an affirmation of the revelation by Lebogang Maile, Gauteng COGTA MEC who earlier this year revealed that 7 out of 11 municipalities (63%) in the province are dysfunctional.

In delivering the departmental budget vote speech, Minister Dlamini-Zuma revealed that 60 of the country’s municipalities are dysfunctional, with 43 requiring mandatory intervention through Section 139. The Minister further revealed that 100 more municipalities are on the brink of dysfunctionality. Essentially, 80% of the country’s municipalities are facing serious challenges which will ultimately impact their ability to deliver services.

As SAMWU, we are convinced that the challenges faced by many municipalities are financial in nature. In this financial year, the National Treasury has only allocated a little over R100 billion towards the department of which only R96 billion will be used as transfers to municipalities to subsidise their operations. Municipalities are therefore expected to raise the other bulk of the remaining resources that would be needed to efficiently deliver services to residents.

SAMWU reiterates its previous calls that municipalities are heavily underfunded. The funding model of municipalities neglects the fact that many municipalities serve rural and poor populations who are unable to pay rates and taxes thus putting these municipalities under serious financial constraints.

The fact is that many of the challenges faced by municipalities are financial in nature and thus, necessitates the need to review the funding model of municipalities. It cannot be correct that the sphere of government which is closest to the people, a sphere that is in the coalface of service delivery is left to fend for itself as a result of the unfair and unjust equitable share and the funding model.

For municipalities to be stabilised, there are several interventions needed from COGTA, the National Treasury and government as a whole. Seemingly both provincial and national governments have failed to play their supervisory role over municipalities as enshrined in Section 154 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. This dereliction of Constitutional obligation by government has played a major role in rendering the majority of the country’s municipalities to being dysfunctional.

The union is also of the view that many of the challenges faced by municipalities throughout the country could be addressed if municipal Councils stopped politicising the appointment of accounting officers, being Municipal Managers. Many municipalities in the country have failed to appoint MMs while others have had acting MMs for an extended period of time. The failure by municipal Councils to appoint suitable and competent accounting officers has led to the collapse in governance in municipalities, a collapse that has been proven to have a correlation to the failure by municipalities to deliver quality services to residents they serve.

Both provincial and national governments, along with government entities have played a major role in eroding the capabilities of municipalities through the non-payment of services that they have consumed. In Gauteng alone, municipalities are owed close to R500 million by the Gauteng Provincial Government. On a national level, the amount runs into billions of Rands. This culture of non-payment by government departments has rendered municipalities to be in a situation wherein they are unable to deliver services to residents.

We further call on municipalities throughout the country to put in place revenue collection mechanisms from government departments and businesses. Municipalities should also ensure that the little resources which they have are maximised and used in the interest of servicing residents and not enriching politicians and tenderpreneurs. It is for this reason that as SAMWU, we call for the end of the tendering system in municipalities as this system does not improve service delivery but rather makes a few individuals rich at the expense of workers whom they exploit and service delivery.

For South African municipalities to work for all residents, the National Treasury and government as a whole need to come to the party to address the challenges plaguing municipalities. These challenges have led to many municipalities failing to honour their contractual obligations to workers such as paying their salaries in full and on time, while third parties such as pension funds and medical aids are months in arrears.

South African municipalities have the capability and potential to ensure that all residents receive quality services.
This however can only be done if there is greater cooperation between all spheres of government while also eradicating corruption and putting in place good governance mechanisms. This cooperation will lead in the promotion of local economic development while also taking millions of South Africans out of poverty. For this to work though, municipalities need to be prioritised.

Issued by SAMWU Secretariat

Dumisane Magagula
General Secretary
076 580 4029


Papikie Mohale
National Media Officer
073 710 0356