Pay up, Joburg mayor tells departments
CITY of Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba yesterday ordered the ANC-led Gauteng provincial government to pay R259 million in outstanding municipal rates or face the disconnection of services at defaulting departments.
Premier David Makhura would be given 30 days to either pay or sign up a repayment agreement with the city “as any other defaulting resident is expected to do”, Mashaba said.
“Failure to do so will result in the city taking immediate action – where possible – cutting services to defaulting departments. We urge the defaulting departments to urgently comply within this time frame so that such action will not be necessary,” Mashaba said.
“This lack of discipline by the provincial government is unacceptable. How can ordinary residents be expected to pay their bills when government departments do not? The politically connected were protected while the ordinary person on the street was neglected and harassed.”
Mashaba said the provincial Department of Infrastructure and Development owed the city R161 million, Human Settlements owed R39 million, while the Department of Health owed R59 million.
He said his predecessors allowed the provincial departments to get away with non-payment. “These provincial government departments, who budget for rates and taxes, have not paid their dues to the city for a long time. One has to ask what has happened to their budget which would have been set aside for this purpose? This debt owed to the people of Johannesburg has clearly accumulated over time and it is disgraceful that the previous ANC administration allowed the ANC-run provincial government to get away with this for so long,” he said. The unpaid millions of rands was a lost opportunity to improve service delivery in the city, he said.
Mashaba made sweeping announcements at the metro soon after taking over from former mayor, the ANC’s Parks Tau. He cancelled the R70 million budgeted for bicycle lanes in the city in the next three years, and further announced that his administration would undertake an audit of all tenders and contracts concluded by Tau’s administration. – ANA