Chris Hani residents owe the district municipality more than R2.4bn in unpaid water services, a predicament that has led to the municipality running an unauthorised expenditure tab to the tune of hundreds of millions.
This is according to the municipal manager (MM), Gcobani Mashiyi, who was explaining at a recent press conference how the municipality managed to rack up an unauthorised expenditure amount of R135m in the 2019/20 financial year.
“When the municipality formulated the budget for the 2019/20 financial year, certain assumptions and projections were drawn, but during the implementation of the budget the municipality realised that the revenue we anticipated was not going to be generated,” said the MM.
Mashiyi said the unauthorised expenditure emanated from a revenue shortfall caused by theft and illegal connections.
“Unauthorised expenditure is expenditure exceeding the budget. Because the municipality did not generate the amount it anticipated. the municipality had to exceed its budget by the R135m. Non-payment of water bills, distribution losses caused by illegal connections and theft of water are the elements that most severely affected the revenue collection and performance of the municipality.
“Water consumers and those enjoying sanitation services owe the municipality more than R2.4bn. These are monies that were supposed to come into the coffers of the municipality to enable it to run its business.
Chris Hani District Municipality was flagged with a disclaimer of audit opinion by the AG in her last report. Mashiyi said the unauthorised expenditure was one of the factors which led to the adverse findings.
“The issue of revenue also led to a disclaimer opinion after the AG raised issues of credibility about the billing information caused by faulty and, in some instances, unavailable meters in some of the areas billed by the municipality.”
He added that the municipality was on a mission to crack down on non-payment and some of the measures may include disconnections.
“There are several measures in place to combat this and the disconnection program is one of them. We are also in the process of finalising the procurement of smart meters which will assist us to monitor and bill effectively. The municipality is also in the process of developing an indigent registry that will assist in maximising revenue because the municipality will be discounted by the department of water and sanitation when procuring water,” said Mashiyi.