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Business as usual in South Africa includes a bit of load shedding on the side. This morning Eskom announced a low probability of load shedding during the day, which is likely to increase during the peak evening period.

Originally published in the ESI Africa weekly newsletter 2018/08/08 – subscribe today

For residents of municipalities where service delivery fails to meet a basic standard of functionality this news is probably low on their list of concerns.

Author: ESI Africa editor, Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl

The cooperative governance minister, Zweli Mkhize, had informed South Africans earlier this year that only 7% of municipalities were classified as functioning and 31% were completely dysfunctional.

Help is on the way in the form of the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (MISA), which will support 55 of the struggling municipalities in spending their infrastructure allocations and to do so wisely. However, a lack of expertise is likely to hamper these efforts.

In the background, the running of municipal services requires expertise in technical and business savvy leadership. There is also a need for oversight when working with public funds – this being the domain of the minister’s department.

Is this were the problem ultimately lies? OUTA, a non-profit organisation, believes the problems are symptoms of deeper systemic issues within local government and political meddling that have failed the communities.

A welcome start to fixing the challenges is the deployment of 81 new engineers and town planners. I wish them all the best as they set out to address infrastructural issues relating to electricity, water and sewage.

Considering that World Water Week – themed on water, ecosystems and human development this year – starts later this month, these civil servants are not only on a mission to save their respective municipalities from total breakdown but to also improve the ecosystems in which they work.

Read more: Strike season in South Africa delivers loadshedding