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Western Cape municipalities are owed over R385m by organs of state

Provincial DA local government spokesperson Derrick America wants to know if indebted municipalities have payment plans. Picture: African News Agency(ANA)

Provincial DA local government spokesperson Derrick America wants to know if indebted municipalities have payment plans. Picture: African News Agency(ANA)

Published Aug 4, 2021

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Cape Town - Municipalities in the Western Cape are currently owed over R385 million by organs of state, which include national and provincial state departments, in consolidated rates and services, according to Local Government MEC Anton Bredell.

Bredell said, at the same time, the debt owed to Eskom by the province’s municipalities by the end of May 2021 amounted to R1.5 billion, of which the arrears came to R125.6 million.

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Bredell was responding in a written answer to questions asked by provincial DA local government spokesperson Derrick America.

He also said that the four most indebted municipalities in the province, as far as debts to Eskom were concerned were Beaufort West, Cederberg, Kannaland and Matzikama who together owe Eskom nearly R79 million.

Commenting on the response from Bredell, America said the four municipalities were all under the ANC’s control.

“For four small local governments to accrue such debts is completely unacceptable.

“I have submitted a parliamentary question to the provincial government about what payment plans have been made with these municipalities.

“I understand that some municipalities have entered into similar agreements in the past, but whether or not these plans have been honoured by the ANC administrations remains a concern, especially when we see their debts continuing to grow.”

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He said that as well as the outstanding debts to Eskom, the four municipalities were facing other financial problems.

According to the Auditor-General's 2019/20 report on local government, Beaufort West is among the 22 municipalities across the country that could not account for R5.5 billion in public funds during that financial year.

Meanwhile, Beaufort-West municipality is the only municipality in the province that received a disclaimed audit opinion with findings, while Kannaland and Laingsburg received qualified opinions.

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The AG’s office has awarded 16 municipalities out of 30 in the province with clean audit opinions for the 2019/2020 financial year. A further 11 municipalities received unqualified opinions.

This means that 90% of municipalities in the Western Cape received either clean or unqualified audits.

The municipalities in the Western Cape that have received clean audits are: Stellenbosch, West Coast District, Mossel Bay, Cape Agulhas, Overstrand, Swellendam, Theewaterskloof, Cape Winelands, Breede Valley, Drakenstein, Langeberg, Witzenberg, Saldanha Bay, Swartland, Central Karoo and Prince Albert.

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