BLACK­OUT

Mpumalanga’s once-thriv­ing town is swim­ming in debt as well as in­debt­ed­ness, which it blames on mal­ad­min­is­tra­tion and col­lu­sion

CityPress - - Business and Tenders -

that the de­part­ments had so far paid less than R6 mil­lion in rates, taxes and elec­tric­ity to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

Over­all, the mu­nic­i­pal­ity is owed R2.5 bil­lion and Nt­shal­intshali ad­mit­ted the mu­nic­i­pal­ity it­self had also played a part in the mess by fail­ing to col­lect the funds. This had re­sulted in a num­ber of busi­nesses re­fus­ing to pay dis­puted bills, cit­ing dis­crep­an­cies.

She also ad­mit­ted that cor­rupt of­fi­cials had played a huge part. Some were sus­pected of col­lud­ing with prop­erty de­vel­op­ers to omit new res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ments from the billing sys­tem. A num­ber of mu­nic­i­pal of­fi­cials were re­cently ar­rested.

Nt­shal­intshali added that the land that had been put up for sale for R250 mil­lion had been zoned for a ho­tel de­vel­op­ment and was to be sold to the high­est bid­der.

The in­ten­tion, she ex­plained, was that once the deal was signed, the money would go straight to Eskom in­stead of mu­nic­i­pal cof­fers.

She added that the land had been val­ued at R180 mil­lion in 2013. A re­cent val­u­a­tion con­firmed the same fig­ure, in­di­cat­ing the pos­si­bil­ity that col­lu­sion had oc­curred in un­der­valu­ing the land.

Mu­nic­i­pal­ity spokesper­son King­dom Mabuza said the iden­tity of the po­ten­tial buyer could not be re­vealed but would have been men­tioned had the coun­cil­lors re­quested so in the coun­cil meet­ing.

City Press has es­tab­lished that the po­ten­tial buyer is a lo­cal con­sult­ing com­pany with no track record and a sole di­rec­tor. It was reg­is­tered just over a month be­fore the mu­nic­i­pal­ity ap­proved the sale.

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