By lunch time on Saturday more then 3000 Joburg residence were recorded with incorrect bills. This follows an invite by the DA for payers to report their problem at Marks Park on the day. Picture: Timothy Bernard 18.08.2012

ANNA COX

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ONE OF Joburg’s biggest lies has been exposed.

There is a billing crisis and it is far worse than the City of Joburg or the ANC is admitting.

The city has claimed that it has successfully been resolving disputes, and last week criticised the DA for holding an open day to interact directly with complainants.

But when the gates opened at Marks Park in Emmarentia on Saturday, the flood of complainants with unresolved disputes was overwhelming – with more than 5 000 complaints received.

The city announced 10 days ago that all but 1 200 problems logged before November 1 last year had been resolved and that it was well on track to resolving current ones.

And, on Friday, the ANC Joburg, in reaction to the DA open day for billing, stated: “For the opposition to present a story that there is a billing crisis in Joburg is absurd and opportunistic.”

This statement has now been shown to be horribly inaccurate.

When the doors opened at 9am, the queues grew and the huge numbers took even the DA by surprise.

Councillor David Potter said: “The stories were horrendous. We had elderly people crying their hearts out, shaking as they spoke, having received huge bills and not being able to pay them and facing losing their properties.

“What the city is doing to its residents is nothing short of cruelty. We are overwhelmed by the stories we have heard here today – people are desperate enough to have given up a day to come to us, because they are getting nowhere with the city and its structures.”

Joburg ANC spokesman Jolidee Mathongo said the Joburg Region was “dismayed by the desperate attempts of the opposition party to project the ANC-run Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality as dysfunctional and in crisis.

“This action to assist residents with billing issues is undermining a democratically elected government and its institutions. The opposition has taken the billing issues too far now and, as the ANC, we will no longer tolerate such insurrectionary behaviour,” he said.

The ANC Joburg Region, he said, was under no illusion that there were still a number of queries that needed to be resolved.

“The ANC-led government has adopted a Revenue Step Change programme to deal with all billing and revenue-related matters. We are pleased with progress made in relation to query resolution.”

Mathongo appealed to people to use the city channels to get their problems resolved and to “refrain from using illegal channels and talking to people who are not sanctioned by the city with regards to their queries”.

The DA admitted that councillors are unable to solve the queries themselves, but said the list of queries would be submitted directly to the member of the mayoral committee responsible for finances, the municipal manager, the executive director for finances, the public protector, the National Consumer Council and the MEC for Finance in Gauteng.