Cash-strapped municipalities rack up R15bn water bill
HUMAN Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has revealed that water boards were owed a whopping R15 billion by cash-strapped municipalities.
Sisulu revealed this when she was responding to a question in the National Council of Province on Thursday from EFF MP Sam Zamdela, who asked about measures her department has put in place to ensure non-payment by municipalities did not become a norm.
In her oral response, Sisulu said it was head splitting what to do with the non-paying municipalities.
The minister also said the rate at which they were not able to pay was extremely high.
"The amount that we are owed by municipalities is R15bn. If we were to put that R15bn into our account, imagine how much we would assist those municipalities," she said, adding that more dams would have been built.
"There is just a serious crisis. We have been sitting on this matter,” she said adding that at a convenient time they would come brief the NCOP on how they resolve the problem.
"We are not getting any joy right now. Municipalities are unable to pay for water. We are unable to find additional resources from the National Treasury. It is keeping us up all night," she said.
Sisulu, however, said one thing they were committed to was that they would continue to give water to the people.
"It is their right and essential part of their lives. We are stuck with that problem," she said, adding the NCOP could help on how they could deal with the matter.
Sisulu also told MPs of the "bankrupt" Sedibeng Water Board which was battling with non-payment from municipalities in the Free State.
She said she and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma were having sleepless nights as Sedibeng was bankrupt because most municipalities were unable to pay.
Sisulu said they have approached the National Treasury asking if it could not top-slice allocations made to the municipalities and give it to the department, which will in turn provide Sedibeng Water with resources to perform its responsibilities otherwise performed by the municipalities.
"We hope that the Minister of Finance will agree and that would solve our problems."