HIGHVELD – The Govan Mbeki Municipality’s Eskom and Rand Water debt has escalated to over a billion rand combined.
Ms Thandi Ngxonono, executive mayor, announced during the recent council meeting that the municipality is battling with debts, especially the Eskom debt.
The Eskom debt is currently at approximately R897-million and that for Rand Water R152-million.
This is due to accumulating old debt, constant underpayment on the municipality’s monthly repayment plan, as well as non-payment on its arrangements with the service providers.
Ms Ciska Jordaan, DA caucus leader, said this proves the necessity of putting the municipality under administration, and that the ANC leadership is unable to dig itself out of its own grave.
She said: “It seems that the municipality is relying heavily on the interdict against Eskom that has avoided imminent cut-off’s until now and in the meantime, continuously underpay them, contravening their repayment agreements time and time again.
“Apart from the approved budget being unable to deliver services to the residents, they are unable to compensate for ever-increasing debts as numerously highlighted by the DA.
“The water and electricity losses continue to contribute to these debts.
“Residents and councillors alike are reporting water leaks, burst pipes and electricity problems daily, only to find that the problem cannot be resolved immediately because the municipality does not have the resources to do so.
“There is no lack of awareness of the numerous problems of the municipality with regard to service delivery and no will and initiative to do the right thing about it.
“Ms Ngxonono reports to the council that the municipality is in communication with Eskom and Rand Water to once again reach amicable repayment agreements.
“To our disappointment, the municipality will resort once again to new agreements that they cannot uphold and they constantly have turnaround strategies that are always heard of, but never seen in action.”
She said the DA takes note with concern that the implementation of a plan by the Provincial Legislature, as alternative to putting the municipality under administration, seems to be failing as expected.
She said having the Minister visit local municipalities every now and then to talk about their challenges, their non-implemented turnaround strategies will not change anything in the municipality’s hollow coffers.
Ms Jordaan said the only thing that could change the dire situation that the Govan Mbeki Municipality finds itself in, is a ruling party that is competent and accountable, with a proven track record of impeccable service delivery such as the DA.
Mr Sibusiso Hlolweni, leader of the Sakhisizwe Progressive Movement, said the municipality is failing to honour the financial obligation to Eskom, yet they are delaying to give the distribution of electricity back to Eskom.
He said this debt is one of the biggest challenges that is causing service delivery to be slow and on the other hand, there is no innovative system brought forward by the leadership to service the debt.
“My party proposed in 2016 that the council relinquish the right to distribute electricity in the area, because we anticipated this what is happening now.
“When they refused, we proposed that the mayor and her executive go to the people and explain the challenges the municipality is facing.
“But no, they act like they are owning this municipality and distance the ratepayers, who are the main source of income in the municipality.
“If the mayor went from ward to ward explaining the challenge and resolve delivery issues there and there, communities would have gained confidence in the municipality and worked with the leadership to resolve the Eskom challenge.
Mr Hlolweni said this all goes back to incompetence by the political leadership.
He is a known critic of Ms Ngxonono and has been leading campaigns to oust her as mayor.
Ms Ngxonono survived another motion of vote of no confidence against her brought by Mr Hlolweni.
This came after Mr Hlolweni withdrew the motion and did not state the reasons why.
Mr Hlolweni is accusing Ms Ngxonono of being incompetent and have been calling on her to step aside, pending her assault charges.
The Ridge Times was reliable informed that about 15 ANC councillors are intending to support the opposition in their attempts to remove Ms Ngxonono.