Service delivery collapse as Lepelle-Nkumpi municipality fails to spend grant allocations
The Lepelle-Nkumpi Local Municipality in Limpopo is a hotspot for service delivery protests. This could be tied to the municipality’s poor expenditure of municipal infrastructure grant allocations, meant for service delivery and infrastructure projects, MPs heard on Wednesday.
For the 2022/23 financial year, the Lepelle-Nkumpi Local Municipality in Limpopo had only spent 14% of its municipal infrastructure grant allocation — designated for basic service delivery and infrastructure development — as of 28 February.
This was according to reports by the Lepelle-Nkumpi Local Municipality, the provincial government and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) which were presented to the Cogta committee in Parliament on Wednesday.
“Indeed, the municipality has not been spending well… The root cause has been the late appointment of contractors,” said the provincial cooperative governance, human settlements and traditional affairs (Coghsta) head of department, Modjadji Malahlela.
A report by the provincial government showed that the municipality has, since the 2018/19 financial year, failed to spend its full municipal infrastructure grant allocation. For the 2022/23 financial year — ending on 31 March 2023 — the municipality has spent only R9-million (14%) of an municipal infrastructure grant allocation of R61.6-million.
“The National Treasury is intending to stop an amount of R16.3-million of the 2022/23 municipal infrastructure grant allocation of R61.6-million total due to low expenditure… This will undoubtedly have serious consequences and will affect service delivery,” the report read.
Lepelle-Nkumpi Local Municipality is in the Capricorn District, south of Polokwane and less than 30km from Lebowakgomo, home of the municipal legislature.
The municipality has been plagued by service delivery protests, with five in the past six months, according to municipal officials who presented before Parliament’s Cogta committee on Wednesday.
“In cases where there have been service delivery protests, we’ve found that communities have complained about delays in the implementation of projects,” said Lepelle-Nkumpi Municipality’s mayor, Meriam Molala.
For both the 2019/20 and 2020/21 financial years, Lepelle-Nkumpi Municipality received unqualified audit opinions with findings.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Auditor-General finds ‘notable improvement’ in Limpopo municipalities, but raises alarm on costly consultants
However, the municipality regressed to a qualified audit opinion for the 2021/22 financial year, the parliamentary committee heard. A financially qualified opinion means the municipality’s financial statements contained material misstatements in specific amounts.
In a presentation to the cooperative governance and traditional affairs committee, the Auditor-General South Africa’s office found that for the 2021/22 financial year, Lepelle-Nkumpi Municipality only achieved 17% of its planned targets for service delivery and infrastructure development. This meant that the majority of the funds earmarked for service delivery projects were not spent, and had to be surrendered back to the National Treasury.
When AG’s office inquired, some of the reasons provided for the poor performance in service delivery and infrastructure projects were: late appointment of service providers, non-responsive bids and budget constraints.
“This, as a result, impacts on the projects that could’ve been constructed in order to benefit the citizens,” the presentation reads.
The AG’s office also found Lepelle-Nkumpi Municipality had an overall staff vacancy rate of 20%.
“The finance unit had a concerning vacancy of 21%, which reflects insufficient human resources to fully implement the financial and reporting systems,” read the report.
According to municipal officials at the meeting, several key positions in the municipality are vacant, including that of chief financial officer, technical services, planning, corporate services and community services.
Capricorn District Municipality
Capricorn District Municipality is in the heart of Limpopo and includes four local municipalities: Lepelle-Nkumpi Local Municipality, Blouberg Local Municipality, Molemole Local Municipality and Polokwane Local Municipality.
The district municipality is a water service authority and has contracted Lepelle Northern Water to supply communities in the Lepelle-Nkumpi Local Municipality with water.
Lepelle has been the subject of an investigation by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) for alleged corruption relating to an incomplete bulk water infrastructure project in and around Giyani, TimesLive reported.
In a presentation to the committee, Capricorn District Municipality Mayor Mamedupi Teffo indicated that the backlog in the supply of water services to Lepelle-Nkumpi Municipality was at 37.7%, while the sanitation backlog stood at 78.8%.
“To completely eradicate the backlog around water and sanitation for Lepelle-Nkumpi we’ll need a budget of around R254.7-million,” said Teffo.
“We don’t want to be a municipality which solely relies on grants, so we are busy with a project on the provision of prepaid metres around the municipality so that we can deal with the culture of non-payment of services.” DM