SA’s municipalities are constantly in the news for the wrong reasons and are clearly nowhere near playing their developmental role as envisaged in the National Development Plan, particularly when it comes to reversing the deteriorating state of economic decline and rising unemployment. The media report endless episodes of violent protest and litigation against poor service delivery, dilapidated infrastructure and the imminent collapse of local authorities, while embezzlement and ineptitude seem to be the order of the day. Those responsible for overseeing local government affairs are on record for lamenting the state of dysfunctionality in numerous municipalities, many of which are in the rural areas where delivery of basic services is crucial for development. The auditor-general recently painted a bleak picture of municipal dysfunction, highlighting the growing weaknesses in governance and worsening performance: irregular expenditure is rising, contract and procurement practices are...

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