Durban – Many municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal are failing to deliver on their constitutional mandate of service delivery and now exist only on paper.
That is the damning view of the state of municipalities expressed by uMngeni mayor Chris Pappas.
He was speaking to a news channel recently on the state of municipalities in KZN.
Pappas said failure to get right basic good governance that ensures the municipality or a business functions optimally, had pushed many municipalities to the brink.
There were still, however, a few pockets of excellence that the local government sector can draw from, he said.
The mayor said the challenges of running a municipality in KwaZulu-Natal were similar to those in other parts of the country.
Pappas said the challenges are split into two, first, it’s the things that you can see, “those are the symptoms of poor management, the potholes, the power outages and the sewer leaks and water leaks, those are the symptoms, the things you can see as residents and businesses of a municipality.
“Then there are the causes of that, the internal failures in a municipality. Whether it is the lack of capacity, your staff who are unskilled or unqualified or the lack of hard assets (like trucks) to deliver.
“Then there are the things that are less sexy that people are less focused on. Those are your internal systems or controls,” he said adding that these are the things that make any good business function and remain stable.
The situation is made more difficult when the municipality is unstable and fluctuates between two or three political parties, he said.
“The ramifications of that is what I call multiple organ failure, multiple organ failure is when there is some sort of sepsis that slowly spreads throughout the body, slowly shutting the body down to a point where it can't function – and that is the same with a municipality.
“If you do not get all the small different components that make up the municipality work, then the system shuts down,” he said.
In many cases, he said, municipalities have shut down and exist only on paper or the equitable share that they get.
“But in terms of delivering on their developmental or constitutional mandate, I think many municipalities do not exist to do that ...”
Pappas said there were pockets of excellence out there that the sector or local government can draw from, and learn from.
”Not all hope is lost for local government but in many cases it has gone too far to fix in the short term.”