The South African Local Government Association (Salga) says it hopes President Ramaphosa will tackle a few issues pertinent to local government during his State of the Nation address (Sona) tonight.
Salga said in a statement that this year’s Sona takes place as South Africa struggles to deal with several issues, most notably the energy crisis and the rising cost of living.
“In a similar vein, local government is confronted with a variety of complex issues, such as the growing debt owed to municipalities, which directly affects municipal revenue sources, and is made worse by the weak economy, which causes unemployment and rising poverty levels.”
Salga said according to the most recent data, businesses, government entities, and households owe municipalities a total of R290 billion for the services they received from municipalities.
In July 2022, it said it launched its Asisho! Let's Say It! national citizen responsibility campaign, which emphasises that citizens, businesses, and households contribute to the social and economic development of their communities by paying for municipal services rendered.
“Municipalities are currently working to improve their municipal debt recovery mechanisms in accordance with the campaign, and Salga calls on the entire government to join forces in the ongoing effort to build a financially viable local government system that will increase the quantity and quality service delivery to everyone, everywhere.”
It added that to relieve pressure on Eskom and ensure energy security it is promoting the acceleration of the energy transition on behalf of its member municipalities, including legislative changes that would allow municipalities to produce their own electricity and buy electricity from independent power producers (IPPs).
“Salga requests that the president give a status update on the introduction of renewable energy independent power producers (IPPs) in the country’s energy sector as well as plans for ending persistent loadshedding, which has had a negative effect on municipalities, consumers, and small businesses.”
The White Paper on the funding model envisaged that Local Government, in addition to its own revenue, it would have access to an equitable share of nationally raised revenue. However, municipalities currently receive 9.8% of nationally raised revenue under South Africa's local government funding and revenue framework, which could be significantly improved.
The revenue-sharing mechanism, specifically the Local Government Equitable Share Grant (LGES), is insufficient and hinders the sector's ability to carry out its constitutional obligations, including providing basic services to indigent households.
It added that it would like to hear Ramaphosa address the inadequate funding of local government from the national budget.
“Salga expects that when President Ramaphosa delivers his Sona, he will keep South African municipalities in mind. Salga hopes for a Sona that reflects the bold policy shifts necessary to increase the capacity of local governments.”