Over the past few years, tolerance has given way to impatience, as residents demand delivery from public servants, especially in local municipalities.
Residents want their basic rights: water, sanitation, decent roads and housing. The perception is that they're just paying the salaries of public servants instead.
Aubrey Matshiqi (Political analyst): "Overall, the situation you are describing is a situation which compromises the capacity of the State. "
Inefficiency and incompetence seem to be the order of the day, says political analyst Aubrey Matshiqi.
Aubrey: "Some of the problems arise simply because people are deployed in government for having the right membership card."
Bongani Bingwa (Carte Blanche presenter): "And that is okay?"
Aubrey: "It is not okay; it gets worse, particularly in municipalities, where appointments are a product of factional battles at local level. So, the one who is preferred by the dominant faction will get the position."
Labour lawyer Tembeka Ngcukaitobi says appointees should always meet the minimum requirements of an advertised post.
Tembeka Ngcukaitobi (Labour lawyer): "When people employ people who don't meet the minimum requirements for the job, they are acting not only against the interests of the government, but they are also illegally."
National Treasury found 66 out of 283 municipalities were in financial distress last year.
One of them is the OR Tambo District Municipality, which incorporates Mthatha and the Wild Coast. But it has the fifth most expensive team of senior managers - earning R18.9-million - more than the top team in Tshwane, or Cape Town. This municipality also has a political advisor earning a package of R1.18-million a year.
We called Zama Mzamane and asked him what his job description as political advisor entails.
[On phone] Zama Mzamane (Political Advisor, OR Tambo District Municipality): "General manager in the office of the mayor because the mayor is always busy and every time out of the office. It is to ensure that political structures, mayoral committee sittings with minutes, standing committee sittings with minutes, also joining with the outside structures, which are more political for instance ministers and so on."
Tembeka: "I actually find it a bit absurd, because it is apparently one of the few instances where there is a political advisor that is employed by a municipality. In certain instances, again, people use the finances available in the public service to achieve goals other than those that are set out in legislation."
Another political advisor - this one boasting a Diploma in Theology - works at
the Mafikeng local Municipality which serves only 270 000 people. It has the second most expensive senior management team in the country, earning R27-million per year. But basic service delivery, like the maintenance of roads, is sorely lacking. And according to the Auditor General, this very expensive management team couldn't even manage to complete its financial statements in time to be audited last year
[January 2012] Terence Nombembe (Auditor General): "We still find many instances where internal controls with financials reporting have not been levered where they should be.
Aubrey: "Some municipalities are either collapsing or in a state of collapse."
But it seems they certainly aren't scared to spend money. National Treasury estimated that in the 2009/10 financial year, municipalities spent R27-billion on what's referred to as "non-priority spending".
Things like: sports and cultural events; excessive catering; foreign travel; perks like cars and houses; events in expensive venues; and staff suspensions with legal costs because the right procedures weren't followed.
There are many examples, like the small rural municipality of Indaka, about 50km from Ladysmith in KZN. In 2009 they spent R600 000 of taxpayer's money on their Mayor's funeral.
In the Western Cape, the former ANC controlled Bitou local municipality that includes the town of Plettenberg Bay, acquired a BMW X5 to the value of R740 000 for the then mayor, Lulama Mvimbi. The municipality also bought a farm to the value of R9.2-million for stray animals, as well as another property valued at R2.8-million, for R28-million. The former ANC municipal manager that signed off this deal, was fired.
Aubrey: "I would say many parts of the public service are sick and the question is whether the ANC will be able to find cures for all the things that ale the public service. Those who are not receiving their services, those who are direct victims of low levels of State capacity, of lack of delivery, might say the country is cursed. We are having a ruling party that is too strong