The Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (IMATU) is in the process of reviewing President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) that was delivered last night.

“IMATU members, like all South Africans, are concerned by escalating living costs, unemployment, economic challenges, infrastructure needs and the provision of basic services. We welcome the President’s commitment to municipal infrastructure investment, economic recovery and strengthening the fight against systemic corruption and maladministration,” stated IMATU General Secretary, Johan Koen.

While the President indicated that processes are underway to stabilise and support poorly performing municipalities, IMATU believes that increased interventions are needed. Decisive leadership, better oversight of supply chain management processes, appropriately skilled personnel and the implementation of the Auditor General’s recommendations will greatly assist in the combating of corruption and improvement of service delivery.

“As an organisation, we have already identified and discussed many of the challenges highlighted in this year’s SONA. Two of our key focus areas within the local government sector remain water and energy security. Municipalities are constitutionally mandated to ensure the provision of services to communities in a sustainable manner and are responsible for the supply of electricity and in many cases water to South African households,” explained Koen.

In this regard, IMATU applauds the President’s determination to confront the culture of non-payment that exists in some communities.

“Free basic electricity and access to water is imperative. It is however necessary to resolutely tackle the growing problem of municipal debt and poor payment recovery in the local government sector. In order to create a sustainable service delivery model, individuals and households will have to pay for these services when consuming over and above the stipulated free basic municipal allocation. This month Cabinet will consider a detailed implementation plan to assist utilities in reducing debt, increasing collection and ultimately improving the potential income generation of municipalities. We are hopeful that this process, coupled with strategies provided in the upcoming National Budget Speech, will provide a financial roadmap for local government recovery and success,” he concluded.