Original Research

The effectiveness of Section 139 interventions in strengthening municipal accountability in South Africa

Thabo Khaile
Journal of Local Government Research and Innovation | Vol 4 | a146 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jolgri.v4i0.146 | © 2023 Thabo Khaile | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 June 2023 | Published: 16 November 2023

About the author(s)

Thabo Khaile, Fair Share – School of Government, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Section 139 interventions invoked against failing municipalities in South Africa are becoming prevalent and causing considerable apprehension among stakeholders in local government. Though previous studies have highlighted that Section 139 interventions have generally failed to address governance challenges in municipalities, their effectiveness in strengthening municipal financial accountability has not been examined.

Aim: This article investigates the effectiveness of Section 139 interventions in strengthening municipal financial accountability architecture.

Methods: This article utilised qualitative document analysis to assess the effectiveness of a Section 139 intervention in strengthening municipal financial accountability. Furthermore, the study utilised audit outcomes as qualitative proxy indicators to assess the effectiveness of Section 139 interventions to strengthen municipal financial accountability. The study focussed on municipalities from Limpopo, North West, and the Free State that have been placed under Section 139 intervention.

Results: The findings from the analysis of data showed that a year after interventions, municipalities from Limpopo achieved a notable improvement in their audit outcomes, while municipalities from North West and the Free State did not improve. Though there was a notable improvement from municipalities in Limpopo, the improvement did not result in clean audit outcomes.

Conclusion: The poor audit outcomes are indicators that Section 139 interventions are ineffective in strengthening municipal financial accountability.

Contribution: This article contributes towards the debates and potential measures to strengthen Section 139 interventions to address the accountability challenges in South African municipalities.


Keywords

municipality; provincial intervention; Section 139; audit outcomes; financial accountability

JEL Codes

D73: Bureaucracy • Administrative Processes in Public Organizations • Corruption; R58: Regional Development Planning and Policy; Z18: Public Policy

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

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