EMLM is mak­ing progress – Mlokothi

The Rep - - FRONT PAGE - ANDISA BONANI

The house­hold debt for rates and ser­vices owed to Enoch Mgi­jima Lo­cal Mu­nic­i­pal­ity (EMLM) is R520m, ad­min­is­tra­tor Vuyo Mlokothi has in­di­cated, re­veal­ing what he called the “big­gest cul­prits” dur­ing a visit by the na­tional coun­cil of prov­inces (NCOP) last Wed­nes­day.

Mlokothi said R50m was needed to over­come in­fra­struc­ture is­sues in the short term and if res­i­dents, busi­ness and govern­ment de­part­ments paid what they owed the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, much would change for the bet­ter.

“This mu­nic­i­pal­ity is in a dire sit­u­a­tion, with chal­lenges that could be likened to that of VBS Bank be­cause we need the same fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance. Some of the chal­lenges are in re­la­tion to our rev­enue col­lec­tion and what we are owed. The busi­ness sec­tor owes us R30m, govern­ment de­part­ments R20m while the big­gest cul­prits – the res­i­dents – owe R520m.”

The ad­min­is­tra­tor said the mu­nic­i­pal­ity had, how­ever, made some progress in get­ting some of the grants which had been with­held by Na­tional Trea­sury.

“We will get a por­tion of the mu­nic­i­pal in­fra­struc­ture grant by the end of Novem­ber which we will use for what it is in­tended. We have also reached a me­moran­dum of un­der­stand­ing with the busi­ness cham­ber for clean­ing ser­vices.

“It is im­por­tant to part­ner with the busi­ness fra­ter­nity, ratepay­ers and all other stake­hold­ers for a mu­nic­i­pal­ity to flour­ish. We have in­tro­duced cost-cut­ting mea­sures by freez­ing some op­er­a­tions and the ben­e­fits of the work­ers and coun­cil­lors.”

MP and mem­ber of the NCOP, James Mthethwa, said he had noted the busi­ness for­ma­tion’s ab­sence at the meet­ing and was con­cerned be­cause it was im­por­tant for the busi­ness sec­tor to know about is­sues fac­ing the lo­cal au­thor­ity.

UDM coun­cil­lor Mthuthuzeli Hokolo said he re­jected the in­ter­ven­tion to place an ad­min­is­tra­tor in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity be­cause, as a coun­cil, they had been call­ing for as­sis­tance since 2017, but that their pleas had fallen on deaf ears.

United Front coun­cil­lor Aaron Mhlontlo ex­pressed his dis­ap­point­ment in the depart­ment of co-op­er­a­tive gov­er­nance & tra­di­tional af­fairs (Cogta) MEC Fik­ile Xasa for not at­tend­ing the meet­ing, thereby dodg­ing is­sues on which he was sup­posed to an­swer and pro­vide clar­ity.

He said that Mlokothi could not turn the mu­nic­i­pal­ity around by him­self, but that a team from Cogta was needed to as­sist, in­stead of just an ad­min­is­tra­tor.

EFF coun­cil­lor Luthando Amos called for the mu­nic­i­pal­ity to be dis­solved, say­ing there was no po­lit­i­cal will to lead the mu­nic­i­pal­ity out of dis­tress.

DA coun­cil­lor Zuko Mandile and ANC coun­cil­lor Sibu­siso Mvana blamed the amal­ga­ma­tion of the for­mer Lukhanji, Tsol­wana and Inkwanca mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties for the prob­lems faced by the EMLM. Both par­ties ac­cepted the provin­cial in­ter­ven­tion and called for Trea­sury to re­lease grants meant for the mu­nic­i­pal­ity so that ser­vice de­liv­ery would con­tinue with­out hic­cups.

The ANC Youth League, Women’s League, ward com­mit­tees and unions in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity sup­ported the in­ter­ven­tion.

Pic­ture: ANDISA BONANI

STRAIGHT TALK: Enoch Mgi­jima Lo­cal Mu­nic­i­pal­ity ex­ec­u­tive mayor Si­sisi To­lashe, cen­tre, made open­ing re­marks at the NCOP over­sight visit to the cash-strapped lo­cal au­thor­ity with NCOP mem­ber James Mthethwa, left, and Hu­nadi Mateme

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