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Free State Municipalities are falling apart

In the last Auditor-General report, not one single Free State municipality received a clean audit. Towns across the province have been brought to their knees through sheer mismanagement and corruption, and the result is a widespread breakdown of service delivery.

Auditor-General, Kimi Makwetu, described the situation in the Free State as “of critical concern”.

He went on to say: “The Free State local government environment displayed a total breakdown in internal controls as the province’s political and administrative leadership, yet again, exhibited no response to improve its accountability for financial and performance management… we doubt if there is political will to do the right thing for the right reason, mainly due to political interference to the detriment of good governance.”

But this state of affairs is hardly surprising when you consider that the ANC entrusted the Mayorship of Mangaung Metro to the very person who oversaw this municipal collapse.

“As MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Olly Mlamleli was responsible for the performance of these municipalities. She could not possibly have done a worse job, but instead of facing repercussions for this poor performance she was put in charge of the province’s biggest city and only metro.
That’s the way the ANC does things,” said Mmusi Maimane, the leader of the Democratic Alliance.

Coupled with this corruption and mismanagement is an inability or unwillingness by local governments to collect payment for services, leaving them with debt amounting to billions of Rands owed to both Eskom and the various water boards.

One third of all municipal debt to Eskom is owed by Free State municipalities.

The municipality of Matjhabeng owes its water board a staggering R 2.3 billion, to go with the R 1.84 billion it owes Eskom.

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There is not one town in the Free State that is not affected by water cuts.

“This is not acceptable in our modern democracy, but nothing will change until government is held accountable and, where necessary, prosecuted for the corruption that caused this breakdown. To date, no such prosecutions have been forthcoming. Every time it looks like something might happen, the charges are dropped by the NPA and nothing happens,” said Maimane.

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“We saw this in the well publicised Estina Dairy Project in Vrede, where all charges were dropped, and no one was held accountable for the grand corruption practiced there.

This is a good place for our new National Director of Public Prosecutions, Shamila Batohi, to start cleaning things up. Here in the Free State she will find enough corruption to keep her busy for a long time.

Millions of people in this province are desperate for a better life but are still waiting for the basic services promised to them in our Constitution,” added Maimane.

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