The DA in Mpumalanga will write to the Chairperson of the portfolio committee on COGTA and Human Settlements to request municipal managers from all financially struggling municipalities to appear before the Committee to explain failures and implementation of their financial rescue plans.
Municipalities like eMalahleni, Govan Mbeki, Msukaligwa, Lekwa and Thaba Chweu have been placed under financial rescue plans since 2018, struggling to pay their debts and also struggling with revenue collection. A financial recovery plan was developed and implemented for these municipalities, but they are still failing to meet their financial mandates and responsibilities.
Looking at the current trajectory of the financial affairs in Govan Mbeki local municipality, the DA is extremely concerned because it resembles a similar path which eMalahleni once took, we have therefore called on the MEC for CoGTA to bring about swift action.
The Section 71 report for Govan Mbeki during the period ending May 2022 revealed that the municipality’s debt to Eskom once again increased to R2.8 billion. Whilst the municipality is unable to service its contractual agreements to Eskom, it is owed just over R3 billion for services provided as a result of inaccurate billing and improper revenue generation systems.
In direct comparison with eMalahleni which presently owes Eskom R6.5 billion, there was a time when this municipality also struggled to capitalise on the outstanding debt owed to them for the provision of services which in turn contributed to an inability to pay their creditors timeously.
In Msukaligwa, power outages are a serious concern as these have become a norm resulting from the municipality owing Eskom R293 million because they exceed their notified maximum demand on a monthly basis. Because of the above, residents of Msualigwa live with permanent load shedding in the form of load reductions and this is devastating the local economy.
The Section 71 report for May 2022 further reiterated the struggles of this municipality as the Department of Water and Sanitation was owed just over R1 billion as at the end of May 2022. We find the above extremely concerning given that the municipality lost 68% of its water purchased in distribution due to leaking taps, burst pipes and theft.
DA will also ask the Portfolio committee to together embark on a series of meetings with the municipalities that are struggling, where the DA will be interacting with the municipal managers about their plans.
It is time that the above municipalities are summoned to the Portfolio Committee of CoGTA to explain themselves why 4-years down the line, the 2018 financial recovery plans are not working – and what assistance they need to improve.