Several municipalities in the Free State remain in the red and are facing complex challenges. Unresolved challenges range from inability to collect revenue and the accountability of public funding.The state of these municipalities, govern by the ANC, were again on discussion during the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) inspection week from 6 to 20 September.Focus was on service delivery issues that include the housing backlog, water infrastructure maintenance and waste collection.According to Life Mokone, spokesperson of the Free State Legislature, findings by the NCOP were parallel with those in the report of the Auditor-General, Thembekile Kimi Makwetu. The AG’s report painted a bleak picture about the abilities of municipalities delivering basic services given they were indebted, owing bulk water and electricity to both the water boards and Eskom, amounts totalling more than R3,8 billion and R9,75 billion, respectively. According to this report the municipalities in the Free State are teetering on the brink of total collapse. The AG highlighted non-existent oversights by all the assurance providers and late or non-submission of financial statements while irregular expenditure remains a grave concern. Wasteful expenditure increased from R677 million to R913 million.The debt-ridden Mangaung Metropolitan’s challenges range from infrastructure and service delivery, a huge housing backlog and installation of water and sanitation tracing as far back as 2009. Mokone said among the huge challenges facing Mangaung, was the municipality’s inability to maintain the city’s assets. The costs have increased from R16,2 billion to R16,6 billion for maintenance. Furthermore, crippling Mangaung are the lack to account debt balances from government, business and households, which has risen to about R6,2 billion.