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Liveability Monitor 2014 for Mpumalanga

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Measured by standards for financial management, water quality, road networks and other indicators for effective municipal governance, liveability in Mpumalanga’s municipalities generally seems extremely poor. The only exception is the Steve Tshwete Municipality, having received the highest liveability rating ever. These are some of the findings in Solidarity Research Institute (SRI)’s Liveability Index for Mpumalanga released today.

Last year the SNI published liveability indexes for Gauteng and Limpopo, aimed at measuring the liveability of a province at municipal level. Liveability is analysed by means of a set of key indicators and sub-indicators. The liveability monitors are part of the operations of Solidarity’s working group on accountability. In the run-up to the elections, the working group’s mandate is to provide the public with information through which government may be called to account in various areas.

Eugene Brink, senior researcher of the SRI, said the income of residents of Mpumalanga’s municipalities was generally low; unemployment and crime levels were high; health facilities were inadequate; and drinking water in many areas was either of a poor quality or even undrinkable. “Road networks in Mpumalanga are underdeveloped and run down; corruption is rampant in some quarters; and financial management is seriously deficient. Most municipalities in the province received ratings of below 5 out of 10. The single worst underperformer is the Emalahleni Municipality (which includes Witbank). As a municipality with a higher income profile, and therefore greater capacity, than the rest of the municipalities in the province, apart from its semi-urban character, this municipality’s situation is quite alarming. The water is virtually undrinkable; crime levels are high; the roads are riddled with potholes, and the municipality was placed under provincial administration for extremely poor financial management.”

Yet Brink also pointed out some bright spots. “Many municipalities’ residents enjoy a high level of tap water access, especially indoors; education is making encouraging progress; the dependency burden has eased in all municipalities in the province; housing is fairly formal, and unemployment is indeed declining. An example of a municipality performing exceptionally well in a poor province, is Emalahleni’s neighbouring municipality, Steve Tshwete (which includes Middelburg). Since 2000, the population there has also increased dramatically, yet, but for a few exceptions, the municipality is doing splendidly. At Steve Tshwete the dependency burden and unemployment rate are low; the income profile is among the best in the province; more than 60% of households have tap water indoors; the quality of the drinking water has been excellent for quite a while; nearly 80% have access to a flush toilet; corruption is low, and the municipality has received three unqualified audits in a row.”

Brink said Steve Tshwete’s performance was proof that relative excellence and sound liveability were achievable in a poor and largely rural province such as Mpumalanga, and in spite of severe challenges. “The fact that one municipality can fare so much better than its immediate neighbour, definitely highlights the importance of residents’ duty to call their municipal authorities to account. Inferior municipal managementmust be confronted.”

Click here to view the Solidarity Research Institute’s Liveability Monitor 2014 for Mpumalanga.

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