South Africa’s 32 most ‘dysfunctional’ municipalities

There are currently 32 municipalities across the country that are currently under administration, with 66 out of 257 being labelled as ‘dysfunctional.’

Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Thembi Nkadimeng disclosed this information in a response to a parliamentary question and in a report released by her department at the end of 2023.

According to a paper published by parliament, the constitutional responsibility of municipalities is to organize their administration, budget, and plan processes in a way that gives priority to the fundamental needs of their community and promotes their social and economic development.

Additionally, municipalities are responsible for ensuring that essential basic public services, including water, electricity, refuse and sewerage disposal, public health facilities, and public transport facilities, are provided to the community.

When a municipality does not fulfil these obligations, the provincial executive is able to intervene under section 139 of the Constitution.

Section 139 (1), (4) and (5) allows the provincial executive to intervene in a municipality if:

  • A municipality cannot or does not fulfil an obligation in terms of the Constitution or legislation to approve a budget or any revenue-raising measures necessary to give effect to the budget.
  • A municipality, because of a crisis in its financial affairs, is in serious or persistent material breach of its obligations to provide basic services or to meet its financial commitments or admits that it is unable to meet its obligations or financial commitments.

Number of municipalities under intervention per province.

According to the most recent data provided by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, the following municipalities are currently under administration:

Eastern Cape

Name of municipalityDate administration institutedCurrent mayor
Enoch Mgijima Local MunicipalityApril 2022Madoda Papiyana (ANC)
Amathole District MunicipalityJanuary 2021Khanyile Maneli (ANC)
Makana Local Municipality2019Yandiswa Vara (ANC)

Free State

Name of municipalityDate administration institutedCurrent mayor
Mangaung Metropolitan MunicipalityApril 2022Gregory Nthatisi (ANC)
Mafube Local MunicipalityJune 2022Jabulani Sigasa (ANC)
Tokologo Local MunicipalityJune 2022Boikie David Obotseng (ANC)

Gauteng

Name of municipalityDate administration institutedCurrent mayor
Emfuleni Local MunicipalityJune 2018Sipho Radebe (ANC)
West Rand District MunicipalityFebruary 2019Boyce Maneli (ANC)
Merafong Local MunicipalitySeptember 2022S.M Mogale-Letsie (ANC)

KwaZulu-Natal

Name of municipalityDate administration institutedCurrent mayor
Umzinyathi District MunicipalityOctober 2016Petros Ngubane (IFP)
Mpofana Local MunicipalityDecember 2017Xolani Magnificent Duma (ANC)
Inkosi Langalibalele Local MunicipalityDecember 2017Mduduzi Tholumuzi Myeza (IFP)
Mtubatuba Local MunicpalityMarch 2019Mxolisi Mthethwa (IFP)
Msunduzi Local MunicipalityApril 2019Mzimkhulu Thebolla (ANC)
Uthukela District MunicipalityAugust 2018Inkosi Ntandoyenkosi Shabalala (IFP)
Umkhanyakude DMJanuary 2021Solomon Mkhombo (ANC)

Mpumalanga

Name of municipalityDate administration institutedCurrent mayor
Emalahleni Local MunicipalityOctober 2018Nontombizanele Koni (ANC)
Govan Mbeki Local MunicipalityOctober 2018Nhlakanipho Zuma (ANC)
Msukaligwa Local MunicipalityOctober 2018Mapulane Precious Nkosi (ANC)
Thaba Chweu Local MunicipalityOctober 2018Friddah Nkadimeng (ANC)
Lekwa Local MunicipalityApril 2021Delani Louis Thabethe (LCF)

Northern Cape

Name of municipalityDate administration institutedCurrent mayor
Phokwane Local MunicipalityJuly 2020Tebogo Africa (ANC)
Renosterberg Local MunicipalityAugust 2020Andrew Samson (ANC)

North West

Name of municipalityDate administration institutedCurrent mayor
Madibeng Local MunicipalityJanuary 2022Douglas Maimane (ANC)
Tswaing Local MunicipalityJanuary 2022Dimakatso Lydia Malwane (ANC)
Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati District MunicipalityJanuary 2022Motseokae Alpheus Sense Maje (ANC)
Kgetleng Rivier Local MunicipalityJanuary 2022Thabo Jacobs (ANC)
Mahikeng Local MunicipalityJanuary 2022Tshepiso Mphehlo (ANC)
Ramotshere Local MunicipalityJanuary 2022Moji Peter Pilane (ANC)
Naledi Local MunicipalityJanuary 2022Cliffton J. Groep (ANC)
Kagisano-Molopo Local MunicipalitySeptember 2022Tshireletso Marabutse (ANC)

Western Cape

Name of municipalityDate administration institutedCurrent mayor
Beaufort West Local MunicipalityAugust 2021Ebeneazer Botha (PA)

Being placed under administration is supposed to be a temporary intervention done by the government, with the minister disclosing that progress by municipalities varies.

“Good progress continues to be registered in municipalities such as Lekwa and Govan Mbeki in Mpumalanga, Mangaung in the Free State, Makana in the Eastern Cape, Msunduzi and Mpofana in KwaZulu/Natal, Emfuleni in Gauteng and Phokwane in the Northern Cape,” said Nkadimeng.

“However, municipalities such as Ditsobotla in the North-West [and] Renosterberg in the Northern Cape are still operating under precarious circumstances,” she added. “We are intensifying our support in these municipalities to ensure that they return to normality.”

Dysfunctional municipalities

Additionally, according to CoGTA’s State of Local Government report presented to parliament’s portfolio committee at the end of 2023, only 11.67% of the country’s municipalities are defined as being ‘stable’ with 38 out of the 257 municipalities receiving clean audits.

Just over a quarter are defined as being ‘dysfunctional’, which exacerbates their risks of being placed under administration.

Source: CoGTA State of Local Government Report, presented on 15 November 2023.

The department pinpointed the following reasons for municipalities’ dysfunction:

  1. Instability in councils and poor oversight;
  2. Weak administration;
  3. Inability to perform on conditional grants;
  4. Poor and lack of repairs and maintenance of infrastructure;
  5. Poor collection and management of revenue.

In an interview with the SABC, the minister said that whilst there are challenges, she believes there are reasons to be optimistic, as national government are implementing interventions.

Nkadimeng said 39 experts have been placed across struggling municipalities, saying she is “very confident we are turning the corner.”

The detailed breakdown of interventions and systems said to be put in place can be read here.

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