Five suggestions to fix local government
de Visser, Jaap
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The past few weeks have brought the troubled state of local government to the fore with renewed vigour. The Auditor-General’s (AG) consolidated report over the 2016/2017 financial year presented a very bleak picture of the local government financial management. The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Dr Zweli Mkhize, presented a list of municipalities considered dysfunctional and in need of immediate intervention. In the weeks that followed, many analysts eagerly joined the chorus and filled social media pages with opinion pieces lambasting the poor state of local government. The AG’s assessment was so grim that a mere reproduction of the AG’s conclusions was enough to produce blistering opinion pieces. Very few appreciated the nuances in the AG’s assessment or analysed the longer term trends in audit outcomes (such as the decline of municipalities with the worst audit outcomes). Even fewer offered any suggestions on how to arrest the overall regression.