Johannesburg - The DA in Gauteng on Tuesday raised concerns over a huge burden the local and district municipalities are facing because of unfunded mandates costing residents a great deal of basic service delivery.
According to the DA, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Lebogang Maile revealed this crucial information.
The DA said the matter is concerning as their residents pay their rates and taxes expecting proper service delivery in return, “but these local and district municipalities are unable to deliver because of the unfunded mandates”.
Speaking to IOL, the DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Finance and e-Government, Adriana Randall, said this was a matter that needed serious intervention or the local municipalities would collapse.
“I believe that the national government is bullying these local and district municipalities because they are now given extra responsibility without enough resources,” she added.
In a statement, Randall said that currently, critical basic services such as fire and rescue, disaster management services and municipal health services in the West Rand District Municipality were the worst affected services by the underfunded mandates.
“This is extremely worrying as it means that when a health emergency or fire emergency breaks out, the municipality will not be able to respond in time, putting the lives of our residents and their homes at risk,” the statement reads.
She added said an unfunded mandate occurs when the national government gives the local and district municipalities less money than what they spent on providing a service from their budget, so they need to absorb the additional costs which they often cannot afford to do.
The official opposition party mentioned that according to Maile, for the last two financial years the underfunded mandate amounted to R225 128 791,08.
The party added that it was disappointing that no action had been taken as recommended by the financial recovery plan for the transfer of the fire services to Merafong, Mogale and Rand West City Local Municipality, “while the Disaster Management and Emergency Operation Centre would be moved to the provincial government”.
Randall made it clear that any change to the delivery of this function must be brought about through an amendment.
“A task team was set up and a stakeholder meeting was held on January 21, 2022, to discuss the placement of fire services with national and provincial disaster management.
"While disaster management is a concurrent national and provincial legislative competence, the function is mandated by an act of Parliament and disaster management is regulated by an act of Parliament,” according to Maile.
The DA shadow MEC said the response from the MEC clearly shows that there is no political will to ensure that residents who pay for their basic services can rely on the government to deliver on its core mandate.
“I will once again be engaging with the MEC for Finance and e-Government on this matter as the status quo cannot remain. We cannot have a situation where our residents’ property is destroyed, especially now with the upcoming winter season, because there are insufficient fire trucks to respond to multiple emergencies that may flare up in the affected communities.
“It is high time that unfunded and underfunded mandates are a thing of the past as it is nearly impossible to deliver proper services to our residents in the province. This can only be done if the national government ensures that the district and local municipalities in Gauteng are well equipped with the necessary skills needed to ensure that all mandates are fully funded,” she said.