Cape Town - Ratepayers in Mangaung Metro failing to pay for municipal services are in for a shock, as the national team deployed to intervene is set to discontinue their services, if they don’t make arrangements to pay up.
This was said by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma when responding to parliamentary questions from DA MP Werner Horn.
Horn enquired about progress made in respect of revenue and expenditure management since the national intervention team was deployed to implement the financial recovery plan that was developed by National Treasury.
Mangaung Metro was officially placed under administration by the Free State government in December, 2019 due to a financial and service delivery crisis in the municipality.
The Cabinet approved a national intervention plan to create stability, improve service delivery and dispatched a multidisciplinary team of experts to the metro.
In her written response, Dlamini Zuma said the intervention team would be undertaking stakeholder engagements to discuss and agree on payment arrangements of outstanding debt owed to the municipality by government departments.
She said the municipality has insufficient institutional capacity and resources to execute disconnections.
“Therefore, the intervention team will source expertise to assist with issuing notices to discontinue services of non-paying consumers failing to conclude payment arrangements with the municipality.
“In addition, the intervention team is partnering with Centlec, a municipal entity responsible for electricity reticulation and distribution, by entering into a memorandum of understanding to strengthen coordinated efforts and strategies to collect debt generally owed to the municipality,” Dlamini Zuma said.
The minister also said the intervention team was implementing corrective measures to reduce excessive overtime and acting allowances that have been paid in the past to municipal employees. Dlamini Zuma said the repairs and maintenance of critical service delivery fleet and equipment would be prioritised to further alleviate excessive and unauthorised overtime expenditures.
“This will also by and large significantly reduce the expenditure on contracted services provided there is proper planning, coordination, and control of resources by responsible departments within the City.”
She said, however, the intervention team had commenced discussions with Bloemwater on the cost of bulk-water supply which was unaffordable to the metro.
“The metro is in discussions with Bloemwater to review the current outdated service-level agreement and review bulk-water tariffs.”
Dlamini Zuma also said there was a plan to refurbish and upgrade the Maselspoort water-treatment plant in the 2022-23 financial year.
“The intervention team is currently implementing a water-conservation demand management plan whereby it is envisaging to reduce water losses from 46% to below 20% within the next five years,” she said.
Asked about what progress has been made to address the failure of the municipality to render basic services in terms of the maintenance of roads and removal of solid-waste on a sustainable basis, Dlamini Zuma said the current road infrastructure network was in a very poor state, and that maintenance needed to be prioritised.
She said the acting head of department for engineering services commenced his services in May.
“The municipality has urgently undertaken road assessments to identify the critical roads in need of repairs. These repairs are categorised as pothole repairs and complete re-sealing of critical roads.”
Dlamini Zuma said there were continuous pothole repairs ongoing across the metro and re-sealing of roads two months ago in Vista Park, Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu.
The minister stated that the efforts to stabilise the current dysfunctional waste-management system will be supported by proper tools and equipment.
“The intervention team is committed to provide the necessary direction and support to stabilise the current challenges experienced by our communities.
“Further interaction is urgently needed between the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment and the National Treasury to investigate measures of support, as most of the grant funding resources within the municipality had been allocated in the 2022-2023 budget,” Dlamini Zuma said.