Durban - Msunduzi Municipality city manager says the failure of township residents and those living under traditional authorities to pay for municipal services has a severe impact on the City’s finances.
Lulamile Mapholoba spoke to The Mercury last week as he marked six months in office. He said the past six months had been difficult, as the City had several issues.
Msunduzi Municipality was placed under administration again in 2019, becoming one of the few municipalities in the country to have undergone the process twice, the first time being in February 2010. The move was prompted by a host of problems that had been discovered at the municipality, including lack of proper governance, questionable staff appointments and the inability to collect revenue which gave rise to fears of the municipality’s collapse.
Mapholoba said while the City had improved its financial controls, and was spending many of its grants, it was still lagging behind when it came to revenue generation and collection.
Part of this was owed to the City’s inability to collect water, electricity and rates revenue from townships and areas that were under the control of traditional leaders.
“Losses are astronomically high on water and electricity and communities are not paying. It is not looking good at all and if it is not addressed it will collapse the municipality,” Ngcobo said.
The city manager said the worrying feature of non-payment was that some residents in these areas had large homes which demonstrated that they could afford to pay for services.
He added that many who qualified did not apply for exemption under the City’s indigent policy, which allows for free water and electricity.
The city manager said the non-payment culture also had the potential to frustrate their ambitions of becoming a metro, which, if achieved, could see the KZN capital getting more funding from the national government.
However, he said progress had been made in turning around the City. “One can say so far, so good because staff and officials have bought into the vision of doing things right which is crucial for an institution such as ours,” said the city manager.
Part of the problems that are being addressed with staff include the abuse of vehicles, overtime and other allowances.
He said remedial action had been instituted in dealing with staff behaviour – including the recent episode of workers that were caught sleeping in the cemetery – which generated negative publicity for the City.
“That issue really embarrassed us and exposed some of the gaps in our operations. It showed how there has been no discipline with people arriving and leaving the workplace as they pleased. This is something that we are now attending to,” he added.
He also said the City had held numerous engagements with parties in and outside the municipality which were aimed at improving its image and reputation.
“We are the capital city of KwaZulu-Natal, the legislative and administrative seat of government and judicial capital of the province and our behaviour must reflect that. We must give confidence to the business community so that they can invest in the City as well,” said the city manager.