Water billing, unfair to the poor – DA

Jacques Smalle (MPL)

DA Limpopo Provincial Leader

In his very first State of the Nation Address just over 2 decades ago, then president Nelson Mandela vowed that clean water would be made available for the people as a basic service.

He added that “Government will take steps to ensure the provision of clean water on the basis of the principle of water security for all and the introduction of proper sanitation sensitive to the protection of the environment.”

A recent parliamentary reply by COGHSTA to questions posed by the DA,  revealed that while residents in Mopani pay R3.35 per kl , in Vhembe and Polokwane pay up to R5.24 and R5. 53 per kl,  respectively.

The DA is calling for vigorous implementation and proactive adherence of Norms and standards and to set a first block tariff for water services in order to not discriminate against indigents.

What is of even greater concern to the DA is the outrageous amounts of debt by municipalities to the Lepelle Northern Water Board.

As it is, the board is owed more than from 2012. Its largest debtor was Mopani District Municipality which, as of September, owed it R189m of debt in arrears.

In the 2013/14 financial year, Mopani owed R298, 284,687.97. The debt owed by Sekhukhune is R71 million and Vhembe about R53,2 million.

Polokwane municipality claims not to have any debts while Lephalale, Modimolle, Capricorn and Mookgophong  did not provide any information.

We urge the MEC of COGHSTA to partner with Provincial Treasury, which has a mandate to mediate between water boards and municipalities in terms of section 44 of the Municipal Finance Management Act.

The considerable amounts outstanding to the water board increases its financial risk, compromises its ability to engage in capital expansion projects and could compromise the provision of water to the public. The amounts owed will continue to grow, unless there is a significant intervention now.