West Rand Metro: Debt burden will strangle service delivery

By Solly Msimanga MPL, DA Gauteng Provincial Chairperson:

The proposed West Rand Metropolitan municipality will be saddled with a combined debt of over R1,5 billion – which will severely compromise quality service delivery.

According to the latest Government Gazette on Gauteng’s municipal statements, West Rand municipalities carry a massive debt burden outstanding more than 90 days.

  • Merafong – R588,95 million;
  • Mogale City – R629,89 million;
  • Randfontein – R199,01 million; and
  • West Rand District – R1,146 million.

Due to continuous financial mismanagement, Westonaria was unable to report on its debtors, but that would only add to an already unmanageable debt burden for the proposed metro.

While mayors and municipal officials claim that the merger would assist individual municipalities struggling with service delivery issues, the fact is that streamlining service delivery mechanisms and practices will have massive cost implications.

Furthermore, claims that sharing and redistribution of financial resources would improve service delivery standards and efficiency are completely misguided as the metro inherits more debt than income.

The formation of a West Rand Metro will severely affect the quality of life of almost a million of Gauteng’s residents, and government must heed the lessons learnt from the Tshwane experience – where after four years, it still struggles with a debt burden of over R1 billion, and only received R20 million from national government.

The people of the West Rand deserve local government that is close to them and in tune with their service delivery need.