Emfuleni officials claim R21m in travel costs in just two months
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Johannesburg - Officials of the cash-strapped Emfuleni Local Municipality at Vereeniging in the Vaal have billed the municipality more than R21million in travel claims alone for January and February this year.
This was revealed by Gauteng MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Lebogang Maile, in his written reply to questions from the DA’s Kingsol Chabalala.
Over the past five years, Maile revealed that the municipality had paid more than R215m in claims.
Maile said the claims were paid out to all employees who made use of their motor vehicles to perform municipal duties, saying they included those who were recipients of car allowances.
“The claims are hard copy and differ from employee to employee. They are calculated as per AA rating taking into account the cost of the vehicle, running costs, engine capacity and the petrol price. This means the amount will differ based on one’s vehicle,” he said. He was, however, unable to provide Chabalala with the details of the trips undertaken by the officials in support of their travel claims.
Reacting to the revelations, Chabalala said it was unacceptable for the municipality to spend exorbitant amounts on travel claims when they had a fleet of municipal vehicles to be used for service delivery purposes.
He said it was also worrying that this municipality, which faced a serious cash-flow problem, continued to spend money on travel claims.
“Furthermore, it is concerning that this amount has been spent on travel claims, given the fact that most of the areas officials travel to are within close proximity to each other.
“This money could have been spent on reducing debt owed to Eskom, and since Eskom has attached the municipality’s fleet, this means that the travel claims will skyrocket,” Chabalala said.
He said the DA was calling on MEC Maile to clamp down on travel claims in Emfuleni as part of his interventions to save the municipality.
“It is high time that the ANC-led Gauteng government puts residents of Emfuleni first by dissolving the council, as service delivery has collapsed.
“We will continue to put pressure on both Gauteng Premier David Makhura and MEC Maile to dissolve the Emfuleni Council and to monitor how this municipality is wasting taxpayers’ money,” Chabalala said.
Last week, the Sheriff of the Court attached Emfuleni Local Municipality movable assets following a 2018 High Court judgment that allowed Eskom to seize assets worth R645m.
The seizure and attachment order was due to the municipality owing Eskom more than R2.3 billion in electricity costs alone.
Emfuleni Municipality was placed under administration in June 2018.