Refilwe Tsipane’s intervention fails to rescue Secunda and Witbank as debt balloons to R7bn

Refilwe Tsipane's intervention fails to rescue Secunda and Witbank as debt ballons to R7 billion
NO RESULTS: A 2018 intervention by Mtsweni-Tsipane's government in the province's worst debt-ridden municipalities has yielded no positive results as the debt owed by the municipalities shot up by 60 percent. PICTURE BY Ziwaphi-New ERA

Incompetency and lack of visionary leadership to service voters is blamed for the problem.

Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane’s placing of 5 Mpumalanga municipalities under financial rescue in 2018 failed to yield positive results in Secunda and Witbank as the combined debt for the two municipalities has now increased to R7 billion.

The DA has now asked for the eMalahleni and Govan Mbeki local municipalities to be placed under administration and for residents to stop buying electricity from the municipality but rather directly from Eskom.

In October 2018, the Premier announced that eMalahleni, Govan Mbeki, Thaba Chweu, Lekwa and Msukaligwa local municipalities had been placed under financial rescue to address issues of “financial mismanagement”.

The DA’s Trudie Grovè-Morgan said while that was the case the people who live in these municipalities continued to experience electricity and water crises, the product of financial mismanagement and incompetency “as a result of cadre deployment”.

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Grovè-Morgan said before Tsipane placed the debt-ridden municipalities under financial recovery plan in August 2018, they all owed Eskom an amount of R4.4 billion.

“Surprisingly, for the period ending 30 June 2020, both eMalahleni and Govan Mbeki owed Eskom R6 billion,” she said, adding there is more than what meets the eye and that these municipalities must rather be placed under administration and “ring-fenced rate payers’ monthly electricity payments be paid directly to Eskom and not to the municipalities”.

“Currently, eMalahleni owes Eskom an amount of R3.9 billion and they owe the department of water R230.5 million,” the opposition member of the legislature said.

“Govan Mbeki currently owes Eskom R2 billion and Rand Water is owed R282.6 million,” she said.

Grovè-Morgan said Govan Mbeki experienced distribution losses for electricity of 60.5% and 40.18% by June 2020 – despite the financial recovery plan put in place to improve revenue generation.

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“The Mpumalanga municipalities are in a deep financial crisis,” said Grovè-Morgan.

“To date, revenue generation from services rendered has worsened in both eMalahleni and Govan Mbeki. 

“At the implementation of the financial recovery plan in August 2018, consumers owed both these municipalities an amount of R3.5 billion and R1.4 billion respectively. The debtor’s book has since grown to R5.1 billion in eMalahleni and R2.176 billion in Govan Mbeki as at 30 June 2020,” she said.

Tsipane’s spokeswoman Sibongile Mpolweni said the provincial government’s meeting on 22 July 2020 noted that the problems around electricity debt “continues to be a challenge”.

She said the government has implemented fresh strategies, part of which include –

– Ensuring that all national departments owing money to Mpumalanga municipalities are asked to pay

  That all provincial departments owing municipalities should pay before 10 August 2020

– That the 5 municipalities be identified for the piloting of the District Delivery Model. 

– That the department of co-operative governance as well as the department of finance “perform the necessary oversight role to ensure the success of the model”.

– The appointment of certain MECs, which include Bonakele Majuba to the Nkangala district, Mandla Msibi to the Ehlanzeni district and Gabisile Shabalala to the Gert Sibande district to work closely with ministers and deputy ministers appointed. Furthermore Cabinet has endorsed them as “district delivery model champions”.

The minister and deputy ministers are Mcebisi Skwatsha (Ehlanzeni), Thabang Makwetla (Gert Sibande) and Maite Nkoana-Mashabane (Nkangala)

(edited by ZK)

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