Budget Speech unravels needs of haves and have-nots

Parktown residents are hopeful that with the budget increase, there will be cleaner, efficient parks. | Supplied

Parktown residents are hopeful that with the budget increase, there will be cleaner, efficient parks. | Supplied

Published Feb 22, 2024


Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana has allocated R2.8 trillion to provinces and local governments in the next three years, of which R531.7 billion is for local government, and R2.3 billion for provincial government for service delivery.

This is an increase of R14.3 billion from last year, where R8.1 billion was assigned for municipalities for the medium-term.

An additional R1.4 billion is provided for the municipal disaster recovery grant to fund the repair and reconstruction damaged by the tragic floods in 2023.

However, despite a budget increase for the medium-term in local governance, there’s a substantial socio-economic divide between the rich, poor and middle class; poor South African households in local communities bear the brunt of ill service delivery, this is quite common in townships, squatter camps and illegal occupants in old abandoned buildings (in Johannesburg).

Some areas of Soweto have fallen victim to lack of service delivery, with other areas, such as Emndeni South and Zola, not having electricity for over six months last year.

“We did not have electricity to cook and charge our phones for a very long time; I used to walk a distance to Naledi, to my sister’s place to charge my phone. Something so small can have a huge impact in our lives,” said Siyabonga Mthembu, a community member from Zola.

Another resident, from Emdeni South, said: “Crime increased because we didn’t have electricity for many months, thieves used to target our homes for house break-ins.”

Both members were doubtful of community development in spite of the budget increase.

According to the National Water and Sanitation Plan report, 50% of residents have access to adequate sanitation facilities; sanitation facilities in at least 26% of households within formal areas do not meet the required standard due to crumbling infrastructure; 3 million people do not have access to basic water supply, and only 64% of households have access to a safe and reliable water supply.

Moreover, the Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa, said there was a 300 000 housing backlog for over five years, thus, an immense hike of hijacked and abandoned buildings in Johannesburg - so far 181 of them exist. The report stated that hijacked buildings continue to exist due to poverty, housing backlogs, unemployment and mostly, illegal foreigners - these people cannot meet their basic human needs. Therefore, local municipalities, including the City of Johannesburg, must demolish or renovate rundown buildings for quality and affordable housing, which also decreases gangs operating these buildings.

In contrast, in many suburban areas, there are a large number of people who can afford basic human life, and have access to quality service delivery.

“Here, in Parktown, we hardly struggle with basic service delivery, instead I’d like our municipality to erect more trees for a cleaner carbon dioxide, trees make our environment beautiful,” said Amanda Van Zyl, a resident in Parktown East. She added that with the budget increase, there’s hope for cleaner, efficient parks.

The Star tried to contact Joburg’s Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Environment and Development, Jack Sekwaila about the city’s plans regarding service delivery, in terms of eradicating pollution, controlling maladministration in housing backlog, renovating abandoned buildings and providing housing and water sanitation, but received no response.

Attempts to get comment from Ward 62 in Hillbrow Councillor Zama Shezi, were also unsuccessful.

The Star

Hope Mafu

[email protected]