'Loss of billions by municipalities fuels violent protests'

Service delivery protest. Photo: Alon Skuy
Service delivery protest. Photo: Alon Skuy
Image: Alon Skuy

There is a direct link between billions lost through irregular‚ fruitless and wasteful expenditure at municipalities and violent protests sweeping across in South Africa.

That’s according to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC)‚ which on Friday voiced “deep concern” about the latest report on the state of local government by the auditor-general‚ Kimi Makwetu.

The State of Local Government and Financial Management 2017 report revealed that the number of municipalities with clean audits had dropped from 48 in the 2015/16 financial year to 33.

“The auditor-general’s report paints a very stark reality‚” said the SAHRC in a statement.

“In the view of the commission‚ there is a direct link between billions being lost through irregular‚ fruitless and wasteful expenditure by those tasked with managing the finances of municipalities and the lack of service delivery which in turn inhibits and infringes on rights of access to socio-economic rights of many South Africans‚ and has ignited so many violent and destructive protests.”

The report shows deterioration in key metrics when comparing the 2016/17 financial year with the previous 2015/16 financial year. It found an increase in the number of municipalities receiving unqualified audit reports from 108 to 112. Qualified audit outcomes increased from 60 to 66.

“It is clear that these municipalities are not achieving the progressive realisation of the rights as envisaged in the Constitution‚ including in Section 184(3) which requires state organs to provide information annually on the measures that they have taken towards the realisation of the rights in the Bill of Rights concerning housing‚ healthcare‚ food and water‚ among others.”

The SAHRC said that “billions have been lost‚ billions that have robbed ordinary people from receiving the most basic social services they are constitutionally entitled to”.

South Africa‚ it said‚ was subject to regular‚ violent and destructive protests as a result of people’s anger over poor service delivery. “The SAHRC is of the view that this expression of anger by our communities can be avoided if state funds are spent in the service of ordinary South Africans.”

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