SA’s best and worst performing municipalities 2024

Swartland Local Municipality, based in Malmesbury in the Western Cape, has been identified as the best-performing municipality in the country. Joining it in the top three are the Drakenstein and Saldanha Bay municipalities.

This is according to the recently released Good Governance Africa (GGA) Governance Performance Index (GPI) for 2024.

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Fifteen of the 20 top-performing municipalities are situated in the Western Cape, up from 13 in 2021.

Source: Governance Performance Index – South Africa 2024

The GPI rates each municipality out of five, based on publicly available assessments – including reports by the Auditor-General, National Treasury, the Department of Water and Sanitation’s Blue Drop, Green Drop and No Drop reports and research measuring the satisfaction of residents with their municipality.

The municipalities are then ranked from best performing to worst performing per category and overall in the country.

There are separate categories for metro councils, district councils with and without water service authorities (WSAs), secondary cities, big towns, small towns, and mostly rural municipalities.

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The last audit reports considered were for the financial year ending 30 June 2022.

The areas assessed were:

  • Administration and governance;
  • Economic development;
  • Leadership and management;
  • Planning, monitoring and evaluation; and
  • Service delivery (weighted most).

Municipalities in the North West gave the worst performance, scoring 2.59 out of five.

The worst performing local municipality was Joe Morolong local municipality in the Northern Cape, which includes towns like Hotazel and Van Zylsrus.

Average municipal scores by province

Source: Governance Performance Index – South Africa 2024

According to the report municipalities with areas formerly included in the apartheid homelands performed worse as service delivery in these areas is still lagging, except for the provision of electricity, which has increased substantially.

Metros

South Africa’s eight metropolitan councils are home to 40% of the population.

They have been characterised by political instability since the municipal elections in 2021, with no political party achieving an outright majority in five of the eight metros.

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The negative effect of that is particularly clear in Tshwane and Johannesburg, with both metros underperforming in administration and governance, planning monitoring and evaluation and leadership and management.

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Mangaung, based in Bloemfontein in the Free State, was the worst performer with Tshwane coming in second last.

Cape Town was the best-performing metro.

Coalition governments

The researchers conclude that coalition governments do not necessarily cause instability in the management of a municipality.

In 10 of the 20 best-performing municipalities, no single party had an outright majority. That is double the number compared to the number in 2019 and 2021, showing that coalition governments are becoming more common in South Africa.

They point to the Ekurhuleni metro on the Gauteng East Rand, which performed second best among the metros despite having no majority party since 2016. Until 2021 there was, however, a formal coalition agreement that contributed to stability.

According to GGA coalition agreements clarify roles between politicians and city administration, as well as policy and political appointments in the executive management.

Such agreements are however the exception and after the elections in 2021 there was no longer anything like that in Ekurhuleni, which may affect the metro’s audit outcomes for 2022/23, according to GGA.

The best and worst performing municipalities per category

Category Best Worst
Metro councils Cape Town Mangaung
District councils without WSAs Cape Winelands Sedibeng
District councils with WSAs Joe Gqabi Ngaka Modiri Molema
Local municipalities
– Secondary cities Drakenstein Madibeng
– Big towns Saldanha Bay Mahikeng
– Small towns Swartland !Kheis
– Mostly rural Blouberg Joe Morolong

Read: What can happen when business and local government work together …

William Murphy

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