by Andrew Louw – DA Northern Cape Provincial Leader
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Date: 25 September 2018
The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Northern Cape has today written to MEC of Cooperative Governance, Bentley Vass, to request the urgent implementation of Section 139 of the Constitution in Phokwane Municipality in Hartswater.
This section provides for an interventionist measure to be put in place which will in turn allow for a financial recovery plan, failing which, will see the municipality placed under administration.
This comes amidst a complete failure by the municipality to honour debt payments totalling millions of rands.
Eskom power cuts already commenced on 18 September and Eskom is demanding R10 million before power will be restored. The municipality could apparently only pay R5 million.
On top of this, the municipality owes Vaalharts Water R15 million, for which a final notice was already served 14 days ago. Monthly salaries to the value of R7 million, that are due to be paid today, are also due.
Meanwhile, only R6 million is available in the municipality’s current account.
In total, Phokwane Municipality has outstanding debts of about R125 million and it is increasingly clear that this municipality is not able to make any down payments on this amount. Instead, debt is increasing on a monthly basis due to interest charged. The mere interest on the Eskom debt calculated at 12,5%, for example, is R6,875 million.
DA councillor, Stan Rudman, has attempted to raise this matter with municipal management on numerous occasions, in an effort to help resolve the matter. However, he has been stonewalled.
The financial crisis in Phokwane has now spiralled totally out of control and the municipality needs help from outside to save it.
We are calling on MEC Vass to intervene and make it his responsibility to ensure the financial viability and competency of this institution, as municipal management has failed. The Mayor, Speaker and Municipal Manager must also be held accountable for failing to take ownership of the municipality’s finances.
Electricity and water, as well as payments of earned salaries, are a basic human right and innocent South Africans and staff of this municipality, should not have to bear the brunt of the ANC’s dire mismanagement and inefficiencies.
Only change under a DA-led government will ensure that municipalities draw up workable budgets and honour their debts, to ensure that basic services are delivered to residents without interruption, as well as that staff are paid their salaries on time.