Res­i­dents op­pose merger

The Rep - - COUNTRY KALEIDOSCOPE - By Tem­bile Sgqolana

DA Chris Hani dis­trict con­stituency leader Ce­leste Barker has sub­mit­ted copies of pe­ti­tions con­tain­ing signatures of over 3 000 peo­ple show­ing their op­po­si­tion to the amal­ga­ma­tion of the Lukhanji, Inkwanca and Tsol­wana mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to the Mu­nic­i­pal De­mar­ca­tion Board (MDB).

In a re­port on page 1 to­day it is told of the chaos that erupted at an MDB meet­ing when the pro­posed amal­ga­ma­tion was to be dis­cussed fol­low­ing an in­struc­tion by Co-op­er­a­tive Gov­er­nance and Tra­di­tional Af­fairs Min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han to com­bine the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties into one Dis­trict Man­age­ment Area.

In a press state­ment on Mon­day, Barker said the DA was ob­ject­ing to the amal­ga­ma­tion of the three mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties. One of the main rea­sons was the mu­nic­i­pal debt to Eskom.

“On March 31, the to­tal ar­rears for mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties of the Eastern Cape (to Eskom) stood at R228 mil­lion, the trend for over­due mu­nic­i­pal debt is for it to dou­ble af­ter win­ter. Hence by the end of Septem­ber-early Oc­to­ber 2015 the to­tal ar­rears of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in the Eastern Cape is likely to be ap­prox­i­mately R456 mil­lion.”

Barker said the debt to­tal was age­ing be­cause of non pay­ment by mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, with about 60% of the debt over­due by more than 90 days.

The Inkwanca mu­nic­i­pal­ity owed Eskom R2 958 739 for over­due bulk and non bulk debt and, at May 26, free ba­sic elec­tric­ity (FBE) mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties owed Eskom a to­tal of R7 887 499.”

Not one of the three mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties re­ceived a clean au­dit in the last fi­nan­cial year.

“Lukhanji re­ceived a dis­claimer, Tsol­wana an un­qual­i­fied au­dit and Inkwanca a dis­claimer. The mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties failed to reach the ob­jec­tive of good, clean gov­er­nance be­cause of a lack of over­sight and failed lead­er­ship at higher lev­els and in 2014 the Inkwanca coun­cil was dis­solved and placed un­der ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

Barker said three dys­func­tional mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties did not make for a suc­cess­ful merger, par­tic­u­larly as

‘Eastern Cape mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are in debt to Eskom by

R228-mil­lion’

Inkwanca mu­nic­i­pal­ity was ex­tremely heav­ily bur­dened by debt to Eskom.

“The pe­ti­tions were cir­cu­lated in the Lukhanji, Tsol­wana and Inkwanca ar­eas. All sig­na­to­ries op­pose amal­ga­ma­tion be­cause of the neg­a­tive ef­fect it will have on res­i­dents, mu­nic­i­pal fi­nances, the costs at­tached to re-brand­ing and in­creased travel among other things.”

The DA has urged the board to heed res­i­dents’ wishes to re­tain the sta­tus quo of three sep­a­rate mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

“Res­i­dents have put pen to pa­per, please heed their voices.”

WELL DONE: Martin and Breda Richard­son with their son and new at­tor­ney, Robin

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