A text message from a family member moments before I started writing this column gave me a glimmer of hope that maybe the rot in our municipalities will begin to be addressed. Apparently the Hawks (the police’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation) is swooping down on the Kai !Garib municipality’s head office in Keimoes in the Northern Cape to make arrests for tender fraud. Earlier in February, the Hawks also arrested Buti Piet Molupi, the municipal manager of the Nala municipality (Bothaville) in the Free State for alleged irregularities surrounding the appointment of a security company, according to news reports.
These are welcome actions by the police as many citizens living under the burden of inefficient and self-serving municipal councils are suffering a lack of basic service delivery, including the supply of water, refuse removal and sanitation.
These police actions are also necessary to address the rot at the bottom. With the Zondo Commission of Inquiry probing the free-for-all graft that went unchecked for years during President Jacob Zuma’s administration, criminal action now needs to be taken at the lowest level of government too, namely the municipalities.
It stands to reason that graft at the level of municipalities disproportionately impacts South Africans. This is especially true for the poorest of the poor who cannot afford to partake in the parallel economy – where those with the means can buy from private companies those basic services denied to them by their local municipal councils.
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