The Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM) administrator Monwabisi Somana tabled his year-end report during the continuation of an ordinary council meeting when he indicated that the institution had failed to pay R100m to Eskom, on Monday.
Somana said the municipality had committed to pay the amount to Eskom in four tranches of R25m from August to December, but only managed to pay R70m.
“In my previous reports I mentioned there have been engagements between the municipality, administrator and Eskom about the payment. We could not honour the commitment due to financial constraints, and have only paid R70m as things stand.”
The Rep reported (Jail for mayor and MM, December 11) that EMLM mayor Luleka Gubhula, and municipal manager (MM) Nokuthula Mgijima were sentenced to a wholly-suspended six months’ imprisonment, for the” deliberate” failure to heed a court order, whereby the municipality agreed to pay R90m in 2020 towards its then R260m Eskom debt.
Somana mentioned that he only gained access to the budget and treasury office of the municipality in August.
The administrator highlighted what had been implemented this far in line with the municipality’s cost-cutting measures. He said the local authority was in its last stages of concluding a new organogram which would not be as bulky as the previous one.
In relation to the financial recovery plan, Somana said service providers had been appointed for the installation of smart electricity meters.
“If we sign the contracts it would be a win for the municipality because it would be long-term contracts of three years. We need to understand that if we do not get it right we could be tied to the service providers for this period [whereas if we get it right] we can realise the value of getting ourselves out of the financial situation we are in. I intend to authorise the contracts before we close offices this year so they may start as soon as possible.
“We are also in the process of appointing debt collection services from the national treasury database, the municipal manager and I are handling this matter.”
Somana said the municipality spent most of its revenue on the maintenance of electricity components which required the purchasing of components.
“We usually bought electricity components when needed. However, we have entered into a three-year contract to enable bulk purchasing. This process will soon be concluded.”
He said the municipality was looking for ways to reduce spending in their personal costs like the reduction of acting allowances and the exorbitant telephone bill.
“In the same breath we need to highlight that our intervention included the revenue enhancement and service delivery implementation committees. I received reports from them but we did not get the results we expected. We are reviewing the committees to see if we can reinforce them, amend their terms of reference or change their leaders.”
DA councillor Lindy Haggard queried the fact that the mayor had indicated in her report that at the end of September EMLM owed Eskom R343m, but the administrators said at the end of October R457m was owed.
“This is R114m difference in R30 days. I want to know if this is correct. Maybe there is an error in the figure or did our account grow by this amount?” she asked.
ANC councillor Papama Madubedube asked for the details about how the two intervention committees had failed to deliver on their mandate.
“On the matter of unfavourable results from the revenue enhancement and service delivery implementation committees, I challenge the administrator to furnish council with the challenges they faced. Was it a case of incapacity to deliver on their responsibilities?”
He stressed the importance of concluding the issue of smart electricity meters, stating that community members in Ezibeleni and Mlungisi went without power for days every week.