The best and worst of SA’s municipalities

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

A new index compiled by Good Governance Africa (GGA) has revealed which of the country’s municipalities are performing well… and which are not.

The latest Governance Performance Index (GPI) has highlighted the best and worst municipalities in the country. As things stand, 15 out of the 20 best municipalities are based in the Western Cape, including the country’s cream of the crop - Swellendam, Hessequa and Bergrivier. Politically speaking, four of the top performers are run by the ANC, eight by the DA and three by coalitions which include the DA.

According to the findings, nine of the 10 worst municipalities are in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. The country’s worst performing municipality is Mbizana, closely followed by Ntabankulu both of which are in the Eastern Cape. Overall the Eastern Cape accounts for 12 of the 20 worst performing municipalities. All are run by the ANC.

Comparatively up-to-date data was used, including statistics gathered in the 2011 Census and information from Statistics SA, the National Treasury and quasi-government and private institutions.

Of the criteria, service delivery counted the most and the indicators in this field were access to piped water, electricity, sanitation, refuse removal, formal housing, access to health, policing and access to education with the latter being measured by how many people had completed their matric in a particular area.

The other aspects which affected the ranking were financial soundness and compliance, together with development indicators such as poverty, income, work opportunities and unemployment rates in the municipalities concerned.

The Western Cape came out tops when it comes to municipalities and its residents enjoy better services and economic opportunities than do those in other parts of the country. With regard to piped water, 98.8 percent of those living in areas governed by the top 20 municipalities have access to this facility. Likewise, 91.8 percent of these residents have access to electricity, 79.8 percent enjoy refuse removal services and proper sanitation is available.

However, on the other end of the scale, only 56.9 percent of those who live in the lowest-ranked of the 20 municipalities have access to piped water, 55 percent to electricity and only 5.5 percent have their refuse removed.

To get an idea of the discrepancy between the best and worst performing municipalities, 98 percent of those living in Swellendam have piped water, while only 15.1 percent of those living in Mbizana enjoy this basic service. With service delivery being the major component, top municipalities outperformed their lower ranking counterparts with regards to refuse removal, water, sanitation, and the provision of electricity.

On the administration front, municipal capacity and financial soundness came under the spotlight. The survey found that lower ranking municipalities in others parts of the country, while reasonably adept at administration, weren't up to scratch when it came to service delivery and economic development.

Whether or not the lack of service delivery in the affected areas will impact the ruling party come election time remains to be seen. However, the fact that service delivery protests aren't only on the increase, but in many instances have become more violent, clearly indicates that the lower ranking municipalities need to up their game and start delivering what was promised when they were elected into power.

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