‘Blame ANC for Moody’s downgrading’

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UnionBuildings Reuters. The Union Buildings in Pretoria.

Pretoria - Instability in the finances of the Tshwane Metro Council which led to the downgrading by Moody’s should be blamed on the ruling ANC, says Jan Boshoff, former mayor of Nokeng tsa Taemane.

Last month, the Pretoria News reported that Moody’s had downgraded the City of Tshwane’s issuer rating, saying the municipality’s debt levels had increased significantly.

Moody’s attributed this to expenditure pressures emanating from the incorporation of adjacent municipalities with their relatively weak fiscal capacity.

The decision to downgrade Tshwane’s ratings followed the significant increase in the city’s debt levels to fund its R13.2 billion capital expenditure programme for the period 2013 to 2015, Moody’s said in its report.

The city’s debt levels to fund the capital expenditure programme – aimed at changing the lives of historically disadvantaged communities and at attracting investment through new infrastructure in several areas, including those in the disbanded municipalities – were found by the ratings agency to be too high.

Despite public protests, Metsweding with Nokeng tsa Taemane (Cullinan), and Kungwini (Bronk-horstspruit) and were disbanded and incorporated into the Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality on May 18, 2011.

The amalgamation turned Tshwane into the third-biggest municipality by area in the world.

According to Boshoff, “this excuse” had often been raised whenever the finances of the City of Tshwane were questioned, and was beginning to wear thin.

An unimpressed Boshoff, now a City of Tshwane ward councillor, said he took exception to the blaming of old municipalities for the financial downgrading of the City of Tshwane.

The councillor has since challenged the metro to reveal the creditors owed money by the old municipalities, how much the debts were and whether the city had eventually paid them.

Boshoff said: “In a report on Nokeng to the Parliamentary Monitoring Group, dated October 16, 2012, no mention was made of this so-called debt.

“If Nokeng had such huge debts, then this should be made public.”

The former mayor said when the ANC took control of Nokeng from the DA in 2006, the finances of the municipality were in good order.

“In fact, when we won the municipality in the previous election, we inherited a huge debt from the ANC – including R11 million for electricity.

“Eskom put enormous pressure on us to pay the bill at the time and we eventually made an arrangement to settle it.

“When the ANC took over, the balance of the electricity debt was subsequently written off,” he said.

“Therefore, if there were any debts in 2011, the financial mismanagement happened when the ANC was in power, or after the provincial government had intervened and took over the financial management in 2009.

“Yes, we had financial challenges and didn’t have big budgets for infrastructure development in particular, but perhaps the national government should shoulder the blame for not providing money to us, bearing in mind that local governments do not collect taxes, but merely provide services.”

In the annual financial statements for the year ended June 30, 2011, the auditor-general reported that Kungwini, under the ANC, had accumulated deficits amounting to millions, including expenditures that could not be accounted for. - Pretoria News



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