For millions of South Africans, the reality of crumbling local governance is something they endure every day — dodging potholes, disputing inflated bills or hoping that, just for today, they will have water and electricity.

But once a year that forbearance is traded for national outrage, when the auditor-general’s consolidated report on local government is released. It paints a financial picture of the state of the municipalities tasked with providing the most basic of services in SA...

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