The news that municipalities are now announcing their 2021 tariff hikes leaves a bad taste in the mouth after the shocking municipal audit results of last week, and at a time when South African households are under severe financial pressure due to the Covid-19 pandemic and its dire impact on the economy.
Labelling the increases “conservative” will not soften the impact on the lives of normal South African workers of whom thousands are still reeling from the loss of income during level 4 and 5 of the lockdown, and have lost or are on the verge of losing their jobs.
South Africans and more so workers cannot afford the rising cost of living anymore.
While we understand municipalities’ arguments that they need to increase tariffs to fund the delivery of water, sanitation, electricity, clinics, traffic lights, fire, and other services, and that they can seemingly calculate how much is needed for that, it boggles the mind that they have proven themselves unable to clean up their accounting departments to stop the haemorrhaging of local taxpayers’ money due to poor management, incompetence and corruption.
Irregular expenditure for the 2018/2019 financial year increased to R32.06 billion from the R25.2 billion reported last year. This reckless behaviour by municipal officials must be brought to an end by either retraining or appointing suitably qualified candidates who will adhere to the principles of good corporate governance and ensure accountability to the rate and tax payers within the municipalities.
Municipalities must be held accountable for their actions, wasteful expenditure must be investigated, and those found guilty must face the full might of the law. Maybe then so-called conservative rate increases won’t be such a bitter pill to swallow.
For further enquiries or to set up a personal interview, contact Stanford Mazhindu at 074 978 3415.