Buffalo City Metro Municipality has failed to address and improve lack of sufficient service delivery.

2015-05-08 09:26

Local government in South Africa has undergone significant and far-reaching changes since 1995. In terms of the mandate given to it by the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, local government is no longer expected to render basic services only, but also to serve as an agent of development. In a departure from the former centralised tier system of government, local government now constitutes an independent sphere, embedded in a context of co-operative government with the national and provincial spheres.

Buffalo City Metro Municipality, like other municipalities in South Africa, is confronted by numerous challenges in implementing its constitutional developmental mandate conferred on it by the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.The mandate of local government requires it to play a key role in development initiatives, the City is expected to contribute to economic growth, job creation, social development and community participation within its area of jurisdiction, in addition to its traditional service delivery role. However, with the pace of corrupt activities and looting of public funds by municipal official has hindered with the current social and economic progress in Buffalo City and rural areas. Corrupt officials threaten the noble goal of a better life for all and also the ability of municipality to address the dismal shame of poverty that afflicts a substantial proportion of the City population.

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, stipulates that local government should give priority to the basic needs of all people and promote the social and economic development of the community. It is expected that municipality has to have a sustainable way of addressing service delivery needs and improving the quality of residents’ lives.

Lack of competent administrative and institutional capacity to initiate development, and failure to properly budget for maintenance backlogs, a weak ward committee system, weak intergovernmental relations structures, programmes and activities, absence of agreed institutional priorities in municipalities’ Integrated Development Plans, the absence of clear criteria to evaluate service delivery and development, and lastly, failure by the City Mayor to deliver on the mandate conferred on her by the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. Over the years, South Africans, especially Buffalo City residents have experienced poor services, including essential services like water, electricity, sanitation, housing and road infrastructure and furthermore, service delivery backlogs which continue to exist and frequently spark conflict.

In Buffalo City today, we have lawless municipal officials, and political leaders who are as egotistical, corrupt and ruthless as the apartheid regime officials who racially segregated black people, who caused and influx of blacks in urban areas and disenfranchisement which characterised the local government during the apartheid era, and they are unwavering in their pursuit of wealth through corrupt activities just like their apartheid masters.

It must, however, be said that regardless of the progresses made by the ANC led government but the current participation channels and approaches at local government sphere in South Africa reflect that apartheid system still exist towards black communities. For many years now, the disadvantaged continues to be marginalised and have had no say in shaping their destiny.

It can, therefore, be said that without community participation as an integral part of developmental part of municipality, the municipal mandate in carrying out its basic services will not be effective when the community is not made part of the new initiatives, including their implementation, monitoring and evaluation. The community should not merely be consulted, but should undertake an active role in matters of governance. Thus there are regular and often violent protests by residents to express their frustration and disillusionment with the lack of service delivery throughout the metro are an indication of the enormous challenges they have to live up with every day of their lives. Most of the demonstrations concern a lack of basic service delivery, such as water, sanitation and housing,

The failure by the City to have a system to maintain and clean public places, refuse removal, dumps and failure for provision of street lights, poor roads, reconstructing, altering and maintaining roads, and negligence of parks and recreational and sport facilities. The Buffalo City continues to fail to provide better services to clean and maintain public streets and public places and cemeteries. It is a failure by municipal management to provide adequate health services, which include environmental health care and may include curative primary health care in areas like Ginsberg Township where residents have been subjected to co-exist with cows, pigs, goats in the same environment.

The apartheid system left South Africa with the legacy of a weak and fragmented local government system, thus there is a much needed effective responsive system from the municipality to address community needs and fulfils its developmental mandate. Many communities are still divided. Millions of South Africans live in dire poverty, isolated from services and opportunities. Failure by Buffalo City to deliver these much needed public services undermines the spirit of the South African Constitution.

Apartheid was also characterised by lack of transparency, accountability and access to information, which were considered privileges, not rights. Thus, it is important to learn from the past, so as not to repeat similar mistakes in the future. However, with workable policies, structures, systems and processes, correcting them is not impossible but with the corruption and looting of public funds by municipal officials deters all the possibilities.

The BCM has an obligation to provide democratic and accountable government for local Communities, to ensure the provision of services to communities in a sustainable manner, to promote social and economic development, to promote a safe and healthy environment, and to encourage the involvement of communities and community organisations in matters of local government and lastly, as municipality it has to strive, within its financial and administrative capacity, to achieve the constitutional mandate.

The Mayor seems to forget that there are millions who paid with their lives in injustice, dignity, sweat, blood and death for us to have what we have today yet she and her municipal officials have already forgotten the people.

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