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Durban - Debt owed by KwaZulu-Natal councillors to municipalities in the province has decreased from R1.5 million in January to just under R200 000 this month, according to the KZN Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta).

Spokesman, Lennox Mabaso, said on Monday that there was now a dramatic decline in this type of debt, which relates to municipal rates and services.

Earlier this year, Cogta MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube instructed municipalities to institute disciplinary action against councillors who were defaulting on their rates payments, saying such conduct was in violation of their code of conduct.

“The tough stance by Dube-Ncube came after an in-depth investigation by her department into a number of compliance issues by municipal office-bearers and officials, which included investigations into payments of rates by councillors,” she said. “This is a universal obligation on all municipal residents, except those who qualify as indigents.”

But by last week when the department conducted a count, the situation had improved greatly with just less than R200 000 owed by councillors.

Dube-Ncube commended councillors for heeding her call, saying as leaders they needed to set an example to communities they lead. She would now extend her investigation on rates defaulters to cover civil servants in other spheres of government.

“As leaders, we cannot honestly ask communities to pay for their municipal services when we ourselves are not walking the talk,” said Dube-Ncube.

“I am glad this message has now sunk in.”

Daily News