EMLM is making progress – Mlokothi
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.
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