By James Letuka, DA MPL in the Free State Provincial Legislature:
Free State municipal debt to bulk suppliers ESKOM and various water boards tops more than R3,2 billion as per the latest figures available. Municipalities collectively owe ESKOM R1,9 billion and R1,3 billion to various water boards. This was revealed by COGTA MEC, Olly Mlamleli, in reply to a written question submitted by the DA earlier this year.
The three worst indebted municipalities in the province are Matjhabeng Local Municipality, Maluti-a-Phofung Local Municipality and Ngwathe Local Municipality. A total of 73% of the total collective municipal debt amounting to more than R2,6 billion is owed by these three municipalities.
This collective municipal debt is a massive problem and it is evident that neither MEC Mlamleli nor Premier Ace Magashule realise the extent of the negative impact this problem has on the lives of the people of the province.
Last week I wrote to the Speaker Mamiki Qabathe requesting her to schedule an urgent debate of public importance at the next sitting of the Legislature. Sadly, she has not yet replied to my request, which gives the impression that she may not be interested in accommodating our request. If this is indeed the case then the Speaker will fail in inspiring confidence in her ability to put the party politics of the ANC aside in the interest of the people, and that she acts as merely a servant to protect Premier Magashule and his MECs.
What will it take for Premier Magashule’s government to acknowledge the problems facing the province and to act decisively in solving them? As local government continues to collapse and the ANC-led municipalities increasingly fail to deliver basic services to the people, perhaps Ace Magashule and the ANC will realise the extent of their failures when the DA gets elected into office