Mayors get raked over the coals

MEC for the department of treasury Mlungisi MvokoMayo

Let’s Talk Komani’s court applicatiopn to have the Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM) dissolved, is one of 16 similar applications in the Eastern Cape before of the Grahamstown High Court.

This was revealed by MEC for treasury Mlungisi Mvoko who rounded up all six mayors in the Chris Hani district area for a Joint MEC Engagement with Municipalities at Aloe Grove Guest Huse last Friday.

Mvoko said after the high court ordered the provincial government to immediately dissolve the Makana Municipality, 40 similar applications across the country had been recorded, with 17 coming the Eastern Cape.

The MEC said this was due to “outside structures” in the form of civic organisations’ attempt to have government account to them as a means to gain control over it.

The EMLM is said to have a similar “agreement” with Phakamisa Business Forum, for it show the forum proof of payment after paying Eskom.

The Rep reported, (R1.2m a month on road maintenance goods, February 2020) that EMLM last month barely had enough revenue to pay salaries and had missed deadline to pay its Eskom debt. They were also supposed to show proof of payment by February 8 to the forum which assisted to have Eskom’s decision to switch off electricity in the area rescinded by the Grahamstown High Court last year.

However, EMLM spokesman Lonwabo Kowa disputed this indicating the Eskom debt was paid on time, he did not confirm the agreement with the business forum.

Mvoko blamed municipalities for leading stakeholders to taking them to court for not delivering basic services to the people.

“The desperation of stakeholders is causing them to force municipalities to do the right thing. In most cases we do see the reasons why municipalities are taken to court, and one can hardly defend them. If we lose the Makana case, many municipalities would be dissolved.

“Municipalities are to blame for allowing this to happen, the non-completion of procurement processes results in delays in expenditure of conditional grants, thus causing late payment of contractors among other issues. Hence we have roll-outs every year. Most municipalities across the province do not have funded budget and have chief financial officers and municipal managers appointed in acting capacities.”

Mvoko said the popular plea by stakeholders in struggling municipalities was the invokation of section 139 of the constitution, which gives provisions for the provicnial government to intervene.

“Placing one man in a form of an administrator does not solve, we have seen it. You cannot expect one man to save an institution that was made bankrupt by a group of people over a certain period. This is not a solution, why municipalities need to change their ways and do better.”

The MEC called on mayors to share their frustrations with them so they may receive support and be advised on what to do to yurn bad situations around.

“Municipalities need to understand the importance of revenue collection and the payments of its debt, especially Eskom because many are defaulting. You need to know there is not a chance provincial government will pay for your debts. You can write to co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) MEC Xolile Nqatha asking for bail outs but you will not get it I assure you now.”

Mvoko said municipalities had the tendency of making huge commitments to Eskom when they were pressed but ended not honouring them.

“You need to be realistic about what you can afford and make commitments accordingly, because of you default after having made a commitment the power utility will switch you off. The lack of Eskom payment by municipalities is among the reasons municipalities are taken to courts by community formations.”

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