Local government funding and infrastructure backlogs: a case study of Emfuleni Local Municipality
Maaroganye, Rasempe Derrick
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South Africa is a hotbed of service delivery protests compared to developing countries. It is still faced with massive backlogs of service delivery, and these affect the lives of many people at the grassroots level. Although infrastructure backlogs are attributed to the laws passed during the apartheid era, other factors such as corruption and unskilled workers have been regarded as contributing components towards backlogs within the municipalities. This research explores the funding options towards municipalities within South Africa and identifies the reasons for inaccessible basic services by other communities. Emfuleni Local Municipality is used as a case study to represent some struggling municipalities around the country. Emfuleni Local Municipality is an emerging urbanised municipality located in Gauteng Province, south of Johannesburg City Centre. Research questions of the study were answered based on the service delivery challenges experienced in Emfuleni Local Municipality as a case study. Municipalities get funds from the national government, private sector, and revenues collected by themselves from locals to keep municipal operations active. Most of the funds received from national government and through collection of revenues from locals are used to finance long-term plans of the municipality. In addition, funds received from the private sector are also used to finance projects deemed long-term plans, unless such projects have prescribed conditions. This explains why infrastructure backlogs continue to persist even though funds have been sourced from different sectors, as some funds were meant for projects that were not on the municipality plans. Overall, this study established that there is a correlation between funding and infrastructure backlogs. The study used Service Delivery Framework (SDF) and Municipal Financial Framework (MFF) as its theoretical constructs. Only two types of the SDF were used, that is decentralization and multi-level as these were relevant to South African context. These helped in the identification of factors that hinder the elimination of infrastructure backlogs within municipalities. MFF was used in understanding funding processes towards municipalities within the country. Recommendations and suggestions are made based on the factors stated by the research participants in this study. The study was a mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods. Themes were generated for qualitative analysis using thematic coding. Figures and tables were generated for quantitative analysis using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) software version. Major findings from the study are expected to inform decision makers within the national government, provincial government and local authorities to make better decisions to eradicate infrastructure backlogs within municipalities.