Act now! DA demands Mpumalanga government must intervene in crumbling financial state of municipalities

Issued by Trudie Grovè-Morgan: MPL – DA Spokesperson on CoGTA
12 Jan 2021 in Press Releases

The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls on the provincial government of Mpumalanga to intervene in the ramshackled state of finances in the province.

It is with great concern that we note this dilapidated state in a number of municipalities in the province – most of which begun to break down since late 2016 as a result of the ANC-led government’s inability to render services to residents, a growing debt to external entities as well as a complete failure of these municipalities to draw an income.

The DA previously wrote to the former MEC of COGTA and current Premier, Hon Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane, detailing the financial crisis and asked her to place the Emalahleni Local Municipality under administration when its bill owed to Eskom had led to an exorbitant R1 billion. Her failure to do so resulted in this financial crisis spiraling out of control and the growth of this debt by R3.6 billion.

This funding could have been redirected to the poor service delivery in the municipality.

To date, municipalities like Emalahleni, Govan Mbeki, Lekwa and Thaba Chweu continuously struggle with aspects of revenue generation, debt collection policies, frequent meter readings and the resultant paying off creditors on time and within agreed amounts, despite the adoption and implementation of financial recovery plans.

As of the 31st of October 2020, Emalahleni was owed R5.3 billion for the provision of services and in turn the municipality owed Eskom R4.6 billion. Over the same time period, Thaba Chweu owed the entity R827 million.

As a result of this debt, the above-mentioned two municipalities and many other municipalities in our province often find themselves on Eskom’s disconnection list. Recently, a case was brought up by various interested parties in Emalahleni and Thaba Chweu which sought to challenge the legality of power supply interruptions over unpaid debt. In this case, the Supreme Court of Appeal Deputy President Xola Petse wrote that “what this means is that without national and provincial governments intervention in the financial crises experienced by ELM, TCLM and many other similarly situated municipalities- all are doomed”.

Given the above analogy and the fact that our Constitution makes provision for national and provincial governments to intervene when a municipality is struggling to live up to its constitutional mandates; the DA reiterates its call on this provincial government to deal with the financial crisis.