Metros are owed more than R449m by government
Gauteng departments owe municipalities nearly R450m
Vicious cycle means municipalities are unable to provide basic services and settle debts owed to Rand Water and Eskom
Government departments in Gauteng owe municipalities more than R449m.
This was revealed by MEC for co-operative governance & traditional affairs Lebogang Maile in response to parliamentary questions posed by the DA in the legislature.
Maile revealed that out of a total debt of R449m owed to municipalities, Emfuleni, the worst-performing municipality, was owed R26.56m, followed by Lesedi municipality at R16.24m and Merafong R2.59m.
Emfuleni and Merafong municipalities are currently under administration.
The worst top six offenders in the province are: health (R344m); human settlements (R55.9m); education (R46.4m); infrastructure development (R9.6m); social development (R6.5m); and roads & transport (R5.9m).
DA MPL Solly Msimanga said the money owed to these municipalities could help ease financial pressure as the financially distressed municipalities were struggling to render basic services to their residents.
“While the Gauteng government departments are failing to own up to their responsibility of paying their utility bills, it is the municipalities who are left stranded and unable to pay off the debt owed to Rand Water and Eskom, to fix and maintain dilapidated municipal infrastructure and attend to day-to-day service delivery.
“In Emfuleni local municipality, the lack of financial capacity has led to the dilapidation of water infrastructure which has resulted in the loss of over 50% of water supplies to residents and businesses.
“Gauteng government departments should lead by example in paying utility debts owed to municipalities so that residents can follow suit.
“The work of premier [David] Makhura’s debt management committee is a start. However, more must be done to collect the debt from the Gauteng provincial government to save the stranded municipalities and bring back good service delivery,” Msimanga said.
In Gauteng metros, the City of Tshwane is owed R197.74m, the City of Johannesburg R109.85m and the City of Ekurhuleni R57.93m.
In April, Maile said he fully supported municipalities’ efforts in debt collection provided they had a fully functional billing system and were not billing on estimates.
Johannesburg and Tshwane had embarked on debt collection drives from some of their biggest debtors, which included government departments.
During the raids, both municipalities switched off electricity to some government departments as well as malls, recovering billions of rand in outstanding debts.
The move was also replicated in other municipalities such as Nelson Mandela Bay.
In Gauteng, out of the province’s 11 municipalities, only one was considered to be stable — Ekurhuleni.
Municipalities have been struggling to meet their own rate collection targets due to defaulting ratepayers, either businesses or private individuals.
Msimanga said the DA would continue to engage Maile to intervene and ensure that the various departments that owe these municipalities debts make payment arrangements as soon as possible.
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