THE announcement by the Enoch Mgijima municipality that it is running out of funds to finance its budget is enough to make even the sleepiest resident sit up and take note.
While the current municipality is unfortunately having to deal with a situation inherited from its successor, the Lukhanji municipality and the two municipalities of Nkwanca and Tsolwana thereafter included in an amalgamated structure, the onus will be on Enoch Mgijima to fix it – if, at all, it can still be fixed.
Fast deteriorating infrastructure, evident most in persistent power failures, collapsing stormwater drainage, roads in poor conditions and a myriad of other problems will need a colossal amount of money to address. The reality is that the municipality does not have it and with several other municipalities in a similar situation, including probes into three municipalities by the Hawks, the chances are that the Eastern Cape government may not be able to provide a bail-out. Even then, it would only be temporary and not a fitting long-term solution.
This leaves residents who have a vested interest in the growth and development of the area (and that is all of us) with a great concern of what is going to happen. Should there be a provincial administration take-over of the municipal affairs? Can the problems be fixed on local level and how can it be fixed quickly?
Failure to do so will result in a nightmare for all who live here as service delivery problems will worsen with the available funding inadequate to deal with the problem. Disinvestment will follow. A doomsday scenario is not what anyone wants to consider, but it is a reality unless the municipal affairs are sorted out soon and efficiently.
Of course, residents are not completely powerless. Those unable to pay due to poverty should register to go on the indigent list. Those who can afford to pay but who are not, are part of the problem as the municipality needs revenue to be able to deliver to communities. Voters must hold their elected leaders responsible and become involved, in a proactive and positive way, in local government.
In return, the local government should be accountable and responsible in terms of spending and running the affairs of the local authority.
Assurances must be made that money spent is in the best interests of the community. Enforcing by-laws and fining those who do not adhere to these, should serve as an extra revenue stream.
It’s time to set the Enoch Mgijima area on the right track of financial viability and delivery. There is no other option.