South Africa

South African municipalities in disrepair 

A new report has revealed the dismal state of South Africa’s municipalities. Many struggle to deliver services and have subpar administration and governance.

Good Governance’s Governance Performance Index (GPI) revealed that only eight of South Africa’s nine provinces’ municipalities achieved a score above 4 out of 5.

The scores are determined based on four criteria – 

  • Service delivery
  • Administration and governance
  • Planning, monitoring and evaluation
  • Leadership and management

Western Cape municipalities dominate the upper echelons of local municipal performance in South Africa, with 15 of the top 20 municipalities in the country.

This allowed the province to obtain an average GPI of 4.11, where 5 is the highest a municipality can achieve.

Interestingly, in 2024’s ranking, KwaZulu-Natal overtook Gauteng as the province with the second-highest score.

While Gauteng municipalities had a strong performance in terms of service delivery, its overall GPI score was negatively affected by poor administration, leadership and management.

According to the Auditor-General of South Africa, at least some of the decline in the quality of administrative governance in Gauteng is attributable to the prevalence of political instability within the province’s municipalities, especially within hung councils.

North West had the worst-performing municipalities, with an average GPI score of 2.59.

The report said this score corresponds with a reality wherein nearly 40% of the province’s 18 local municipalities are currently under provincial administration.

It said the public sentiment toward the state of municipal governance in this province appears to reflect this reality.

Less than one in five respondents from the North West expressed satisfaction with municipal performance – the lowest rate in any province.

Overall, citizen satisfaction with municipal performance in the country is generally low, with only 3 in 10 South Africans expressing satisfaction between 2010 and 2021.

Last year, President Kgalema Motlanthe said South Africa’s municipalities are heading for collapse, with 90% of them facing distress or dysfunction and 66 being completely dysfunctional.

Motlanthe said his foundation has focused on issues with local governments since 2019, as they are where the majority of service delivery failures are occurring. 

Furthermore, the sphere of government is closest to the people and is “at the coalface of service delivery”, Motlanthe said. 

The former President urged the national government to drive municipalities to increase their efficiency and capacity. 

According to data from the Ministry in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation, 90% of municipalities face distress or dysfunction. 

Motlanthe said 66 of them are totally dysfunctional, and 163 are currently distressed. 

Data from the Auditor-General shows that 38 municipalities and only 2 out of 8 metropolitan areas achieved clean audits for the past financial year.

Furthermore, many of these municipalities are underspending their infrastructure grants from the National Treasury despite the dilapidated nature of municipal infrastructure. 

Below is an overview of every province’s average GPI score for 2024.

ProvinceGPI 2024 Score
Western Cape4.11
Eastern Cape3.23
Free State2.79
Northern Cape2.78


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