File image: Dumisani Sibeko

Johannesburg - Samwu on Friday dismissed claims it owes the City of Johannesburg a total of R 1.2 million in services.

The South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) head office faced a black-out after the City of Johannesburg disconnected their services due to non-payment of municipal services on Thursday February 14, 2019

According to the city, Samwu owes a total of about R1.2 million for electricity, water, sewer and refuse, and they have issued a pre-termination notice to the union in December 2018, which the union ignored.

The national media officer of Samwu Papikie Mohale confirmed to The Star that the City of Johannesburg has disconnected electricity at the union's head offices.

"On the 14th of February 2019, City Power officials arrived at the union's head offices in Johannesburg with the aim to disconnect electricity to the building," said Mohale

"These officials were called into an office wherein they were shown the invoice sent by the city and the recent proof of payment. They however insisted that they were instructed by a superiors that they should disconnect the union's power by all means," Mohale added

Mohale dismissed claims that the union owes the city a total of R 1.2 million and said according to an invoice issued by the city for February, the union owes a total of R 38 411.03.

This was refuted by the city, with Kutlwano Olifant saying: “As the city, we stand firm on the statement that was issued this morning. Indeed the union owes us more than R1.2 million as of yesterday (Thursday) for all its municipal accounts".

This amount includes R156, 065.98 for water and sanitation; R 1, 009, 661.46 for property and rates and R38 411.03 for electricity.

The city went on to say payment of municipal services by all the customers is essential in ensuring sustainability of services to all the residents.

“Samwu is the most prominent local government trade union in South Africa, a key city stakeholder and is also a prominent leader in our country. It is therefore critical that it sets the right example and partner with the city to ensure sustainable service delivery and financial sustainability of the municipality,” the city said in a statement

"By not paying for municipal services, it [Samwu] ultimately disadvantages the same workers it aims to represent. This also reduces the city’s ability to draw revenue which can be used to deliver quality services to households across the City," the city added

The city admitted that they are faced with challenges, including a R170 billion infrastructure backlog, a housing backlog of 300 000 units, and said over 900 000 people are unemployed within the city.

“Service delivery issues that plague our communities arise from these institutional backlogs, and prioritisation of spend in these areas will continue to campaign to improve the lives of our residents,” the statement read.

We therefore cannot afford to lose a single cent that would have been allocated to delivering change to our residents.

The city urges SAMWU and other organisations to carefully manage their municipal accounts and ensure up to date payments.

“We therefore cannot afford to lose a single cent that would have been allocated to delivering change to our residents,” the statement read.

The Star