Focus on municipal service failure due to underspending

The National Treasury has raised the alarm as three metropolitan municipalities and some local municipalities in Gauteng have failed to spend their capital infrastructure grants, Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi says.

Consequently, said Lesufi on Monday during the State of the Province address, the provincial government would, using the relevant legislative framework, intervene where weaknesses exist in local government.

Areas already identified for intervention include waste collection, which is a huge service delivery problem across the province. The Gauteng provincial government was due to arrange with Pikitup, the official waste management service provider in Johannesburg, to intervene when the state-owned entity could not deliver.

The same applies to flowing sewerage and a lack of water supply, where the province would ask Rand Water and Rand West Municipality to assist in the event of a failure in services.

Lesufi said the province was concerned about the state of municipalities, especially in matters related to financial management. “We are ready to intervene where municipalities cannot render services to our communities,” he said.

Just this week, a diesel shortage led to a halt in refuse collection in some Rand West City areas. There has also been a waste management crisis in Ekurhuleni, with strewn piles of uncollected rubbish becoming commonplace.

In Tembisa, angry residents blocked the streets with garbage earlier this month in revenge for delays in waste collection by service providers.

On the second issue of under-expenditure, Lesufi focused on infrastructure spending in the province, which has resulted in unspent funds being returned to the Treasury.

To put these funds to effective use, the provincial government plans to launch an artisan programme that would see another 40 000 young people gain employment opportunities, including cleaning schools and clinics, building maintenance, and cutting grass along the roads.

“That campaign is also going to be big because it seeks to employ over 40 000 young people from that money we have not spent on infrastructure but some of it from the Department of Labour,” said a provincial government official.

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