When we asked Daily Maverick readers what their top issues were ahead of the local government election on 1 November, this failure was writ large.
The local government has failed, and Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke said as much when she released the municipal audit for 2021 and found that only 27 of 257 municipalities received a clean audit.
What does that mean for you and me? Local state failure.
Water has emerged as the biggest priority.
The water system across cities, towns and rural areas is failing, and we know it from regular water cuts to increasing tariffs.
Electricity is the second priority, with power cuts (in addition to Eskom’s load shedding) noted as problem one.
Tariffs are extraordinarily high as the calculation method (the so-called block tariff system) means that readers are paying way over the average 14% increase announced by major municipalities this year.
Power is also simply unavailable to many communities as supply fails.
Our audience noted the next series of issues was sewage problems – with leaks posing dangers to water supply – rubbish dumping and dirty streets.
Potholes and municipal road conditions are the fourth major issue noted across the country.
As a group of topics, local-level corruption, poor governance and inefficient bureaucrats are also top-ranking.
National issues always have an impact on local government elections, and they will again this year.
Unemployment, homelessness, crime and safety also emerged as concerns.
One commentator said they were tired of the “sheer arrogance of City Hall”, which encapsulates what all of us feel.