Dry and dark festive season ahead

Emalahleni Local Municipality is finding themselves in really deep water. The Department for Water and Sanitation issued a notice demanding payment of an outstanding debt of R144 654 000.

If the municipality fails to meet the demand and not pay their debt that has been outstanding for 60 days, the department will close the taps on December 8.

“Emalahleni is one of 30 municipalities that defaulted on their water accounts. A total outstanding water debt of R10.7 billion currently exists, with 73% of this amount being outstanding for longer than 60 days. This debt is owed by municipalities, despite Section 65(2)(e) of the Municipal Finance Management Act that obliges municipalities to pay for bulk services within sixty days of receiving the relevant invoice or statement,” said Mr Sputnik Ratau spokesperson for the Department of Water and Sanitation.

Louis Wessels, Wynand Wagner, Marlene van Eeden and Tersia Robinson are busy preparing the 1 007 page intervention application for Eskom.

In trying to recover the outstanding debt, the department initiated stakeholder consultations in terms of the Inter-governmental Relations Act and it has also embarked on a legal process to recover this money.

According to Ratau the National Water Act allows the department to restrict or suspend the flow of water to defaulting municipalities.

“This intended step is totally irrational and will infringe on the basic constitutional rights of the community. It however confirms the necessity for an urgent mandatory intervention onto the affairs of the municipality. A letter of demand will be dispatched to the minister shortly,” said Mr Johan Coetzee, a local attorney on behalf of the Save Emalahleni Action group, who has been trying to persuade Eskom to keep the lights on.

Eskom is also banging on the municipality’s door. They want their R1.3-billion that the municipality owes them.
The municipality previously agreed to pay Eskom R4-million a day. But again has defaulted and in November only coughed up R21-million.

Read the FULL STORY in the WITBANK NEWS out today


Zita Goldswain
Assistant Editor

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