Pretoria - The almost R1million in unpaid municipal bills for the building housing the ANC Tshwane regional offices in Arcadia was inherited from some white people who stayed there in the past, the party claimed on Wednesday. In this regard, regional spokesperson Bafuze Yabo said the ANC was calling for the debt to be scrapped.
Yabo said the lion's share of the R806 999 utility bill constituted “a historic debt”, which was inherited from some white people who used to stay at the building before it was occupied by the ANC's parliamentary constituency in 2012.
The ANC occupies the Belvedere Street building in Arcadia through a lease agreement with the municipality, the landlord.
The building is used by the party's caucus, parliamentary constituency and the regional structure.
Part of the lease agreement bound the lessee to pay monthly rentals and utility services.
However, since 2012 the ANC has failed to pay for its utility services, according to the city’s internal report regarding the matter.
According to the utility bill statement dated June 15, this year, the party owes the city R806 999 for usage of water, electricity, sanitation and miscellaneous charges.
But Yabo said: “We want the City of Tshwane to write it off, more especially the part of the bill which was not accumulated during the occupation of the building by the ANC.”
He said the historic bill was accumulated during the times of a certain Mr Perry, who lived there before 2012.
“The Perrys and some other white families used the building before the occupation of the building by the ANC’s parliamentary constituency,” he said.
According to him, the debt inherited by the ANC from the building was in the region of R500 000 and it accumulated interests over the years.
He said the parliamentary constituency, which receives the monthly rental bill, had never been served with a utility bill.
“What Parliament gets is the bill from the City of Tshwane for rent. Utility services bill seems to be different from that of rental. I am still trying to trace where that bill is sent to because Parliament does not receive that bill,” he said.
He said the last payment towards rental account was made on July 8.
Regarding the utility bill, he said: “We don't necessarily agree with the utility bill. The best thing to do is that the regional secretary must handle this matter because it is an administrative issue.
"He must have a meeting with the city officials to try to get an amicable solution to the bill that was accumulated before the occupation of the building by the ANC parliamentary constituency.”
He said it would be unfair on the ANC to be expected to pay for a bill that belonged to other people.
“We would surely agree with the writing off of that amount, unless the City can recover that amount from those who occupied the building before the ANC. It won't be fair to be pressured to pay the debt we did not accumulate ourselves,” he said.
In terms of the lease, the ANC had failed to comply with the contract and risked being evicted from the property by the landlord.
City spokesperson Lindela Mashigo on Tuesday said the utility bill account had been handed over to debt collectors and attempts to recover the arrears was followed in line with the credit control and debt collection policy.