DA ALLEGES MUNICIPALITY IS INSOLVENT
The Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality owes close to a quarter of a billion rand and is trading under insolvent circumstances, the DA has indicated.
DA caucus leader Chris de Wet said on Wednesday since the amalgamation of the three municipalities to form the Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM), residents of the new entity had had to endure an escalating lack of basic services, as well as maladministration of finances and infrastructure in the towns and villages.
“In 2018, residents have experienced events no one thought could ever occur and which have caused immense hardship.”
He said the DA had “consistently warned against the maladministration and cadre employment under the present ANC regime which inevitably has to lead to the demise of the municipality”.
The past few years had seen an increase of abuse of power and irregular and wasteful expenditure, he said, quoting the use of residents’ money to buy R90,000 of KFC for an ANC event and the almost R1m for the hire of a luxury vehicle for the mayor “where there was a suitable vehicle available in the car pool” as examples.
“The rot has become so deep and systemic that it has destroyed the financial viability of the EMLM.”
De Wet said the latest quarterly budget monitoring report ending September 30, painted a shocking picture of the finances of the municipality.
“Most disturbing is the figure of R223m the municipality owes as at September 30. This means EMLM has outstanding bills to pay of almost a quarter of a billion rand.”
This amount, he said, included R118m owed to Eskom.
The figure, he warned, could be even higher as some outstanding claims were being verified.
De Wet said EMLM currently had about R10m in its bank accounts and the DA believed there were no reasonable prospects of the municipality being able to pay its creditors.
There were no effective controls to curb expenditure for fuel over the past three months at R2,15m despite the fact that there were only a few vehicles and little service delivery taking place.
“The municipality only collects enough revenue to pay salaries and little else. The outstanding debtors book is at R712m, of which little is collected.”
De Wet said as a result of mismanagement, service delivery had come to a halt or been severely affected.
“Water and electricity outages have become part of our lives. Other services like refuse removal and cleaning of streets are also erratic. There are almost no repairs or maintenance being done and infrastructure is fast deteriorating.“
He said Komani and other towns in the area were “progressively looking like war zones”, with streets strewn with filth, wandering livestock, sewerage water in streets, overgrown public spaces and pavements, disintegrating streets and broken traffic lights and signs.
He said the insolvency and collapse were more evident among the poorer communities which did not have resources to deal with the crisis and had to ensure hardship daily.
“Business and investors are increasingly starting to disinvest or refrain from investing in our area. This will hurt the poorer communities, where unemployment is at record levels. Under these circumstances, the mood of the people may easily become desperate and people will take the law into their own hands and vent their frustration by illegal marches and even stronger protests like burning and looting public infrastructure.
“This has already happened in Stutterheim and Sterkstroom.”
He said the DA condemned illegal protest but the present regime would have to take full responsibility when it happened.
“Unless something is done to turn the administration around, its total collapse is inevitable.”
Community meetings to discuss the situation and how to turn it around would be held for Madeira and Kings Park residents at the Gali Thembani (formerly JJ Serfontein) school on Sunday at 3pm and for the rest of the town at 6pm on Monday at the Hangklip Primary hall. Dates, times and venues for meetings in other areas are also being set up.
De Wet said the meetings were open to any interested individuals or groups wanting to attend.
The EMLM response to the statement was received late and accommodated on p3 of today’s Rep. Please read it there.