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21st Aug 2022

Architect Africa Online

Africa's Leading Architecture Aggregator

Abaqulusi Municipality: The lights are on but no one is home

by Chris Pappas, MPL – DA KZN Spokesperson on CoGTA

A recent oversight inspection by the Democratic Alliance (DA) of the Abaqulusi municipality has revealed the non-existence of proper management, despite more than two years of being under provincial administration.

The Abaqulusi municipality was placed under administration on 21 February 2019 in terms of section 139 1(b) of the constitution, with Sbu Mkhize appointed as administrator. In March 2021 the period of administration was extended to October 2021.

It is clear from last weeks’ inspection by the DA that not much has changed and that Abaqulusi is in fact regressing under ANC administration.

One of the most concerning findings was the discovery that large numbers of municipal officials remain absent due to Covid-19 – not because they are sick but because they are simply not working. This despite the fact that the country was placed on Level 1 restrictions weeks ago.

Further findings include the following;

• The municipality is haemorrhaging revenue due to a lack of maintenance of water and electricity meters. In one case, an intervention by KZN’s Department of Public Works resulted in an increase in monthly payments from R10 000 per month to R100 000 per month. The biggest losses are coming from government-owned facilities such as the District Hospital and Transnet

• Overall, there is a 70% loss occurring on water, with most water that leaves the purification facility not making it to consumers or not being billed

• There is no bucket truck in the municipality, with the recently purchased truck already broken

• Municipal stores are depleted with basic items such as ball valves and elbow joints in extremely short supply. At one stage street light bulbs were ordered but they were the wrong size and;

• Collections from traffic fines have decreased from R10 million to R25 000 due to various backlogs

An equally disturbing finding by the DA points to the politicization of water distribution within the District. It is alleged that the Zululand District Municipality owes millions of Rands to Abaqulusi Municipality for water. Yet, instead of installing water infrastructure for the residents of this municipality, the IFP-run district continues to create dependency on hugely expensive water tankers.

The financial viability of the Abaqulusi Municipality has been severely compromised by mismanagement and a lack of proper oversight. This phenomenon is not unique. In most cases where the ANC-run provincial government deploys an administrator, municipalities fail to recover.

The simple fact is that these administrators are political deployees. In addition, in most cases of poorly-performing municipalities the problem lies with the lack of capacity of the councillors deployed by the IFP or ANC, as alluded to by the Msunduzi Municipal manager recently.

Local government elections are around the corner and the residents of Abaqulusi have the chance to vote out under-performing councillors and vote in the DA: a party that has already shown that it can provide service delivery and improve peoples’ lives.

Banner image: M. J. Sibiya, Abaqulusi Mayor. Photograph from municipal website


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