Service delivery in most municipalities in the North West province is said to be on the brink of collapse. Many of them struggle to collect revenue, and this impacts negatively on the provision of services to their respective communities.
Due to a lack of funds, some municipalities are even forced to utilise their Municipal Infrastructure Grants (MIG) for their day-to-day operations. The usage of the grants for unintended purposes is negatively affecting infrastructure development.
The Municipal Infrastructure Grant is a conditional grant, solely intended for infrastructure development. Such developments include electricity, stormwater, sanitation and municipal roads, among others.
However, due to a lack of funds in some municipalities, the grant has been used for the payment of salaries and other creditors. This then poses a challenge to infrastructure development projects.
One such municipality is Ramotshere Moiloa in Zeerust. The municipality which is highly dependent on grants is unable to consistently pay its creditors.
“We are highly dependent on grants as a result we cannot spend on capital expenditure, and that is also posing a very serious problem with us, especially in relation to the payment of creditors on month to month basis. At the moment if I can tell you, we already have a big challenge with our Eskom account which is not being serviced on a monthly bases as required,” says Municipal Manager of the Ramotshere Moiloa Local Municipality.
Another municipality is Lekwa-Teemane which comprises the towns of Bloemhof and Christiana. The municipality also relies on its R15 million grant for survival.
“Our municipality is relying on MIG and MIG is quite little. For this financial year, we will be getting R15 million of MIG,” says Lekwa-Teemane Local Municipality Mayor Sebang Motlhabi.
Some community members in the Lekwa-Teemane municipal area are complaining about the lack of services.
“Our tyres are bursting, our macs are always not in order, because of only one thing, our roads are very bad,” laments one resident.
Another resident says, ” This sewerage is really a problem because firstly, it’s unhygienic, especially for these young children. Sometimes the water is a lot and they turn to play in the water.”
The provincial Treasury Department has emphasised the purpose of the Municipal Infrastructure Grant.
“Those are the funds that get to be transferred from national to the municipality to improve the infrastructure development in the municipality in the form of funding and it will come with conditions. So, those are funds actually channelled to the municipality meant for infrastructure development,” says Head of the North West Treasury Department, Ndlela Kunene.
Kunene claims that the grant is not intended for the payment of salaries and other operational expenditures.
“It is not intended to be used for any other expenditure other than the expenditure that is listed in the conditions of the grant. It should not be used for salaries, if it’s used for salaries, the municipality will be in contravention to the division of revenue act.”
Kunene has encouraged all municipalities to draw up a revenue enhancement plan, to ensure sustainable revenue.