The municipal management of Madibeng, in the North West, is not doing its best with taxpayers’ money. This is the municipality that was in the news earlier in the year when water-related service delivery protests resulted in several deaths, some at the hands of police.
It seems that not much has changed, as some residents were recently without water for weeks, because the municipality owed millions to Rand Water. Extensive mismanagement of public money, failure to address a lack of capacity, and wasteful spending makes the municipal management team our zero of the week.
Newspapers last week revealed that management has sufficient budget to meet the needs of its residents, but seems to not be using it for the purpose for which it was intended. As a result, communities in the area are struggling to access clean water for domestic and personal use.
Referring to a report it says was commissioned by the government, the paper claimed that, among others:
- Municipal officials are incompetent when it comes to managing water supply;
- Only 1%, amounting to a paltry R13-million, of Madibeng's R1.2-billion operating budget was spent on maintenance of water infrastructure;
- As much as 75% of the municipality's water is wasted, which costs up to R60-million a year;
- But to compensate for its failure to provide piped water, the municipality spends R15-million a year on distributing water by tanker.
To make matters worse, the government report also says that the municipality ignored numerous warnings that crucial infrastructure was failing and that basic maintenance was not carried out. It begs the question – what is happening to the money then?
Municipal management must use the funds it receives to do its job of serving the people who live within its boundaries and who depend on it for basic supplies. Many of us take for granted that this will happen, but for some, it's just not the case.