Objection to proposed amalgamation of Lukhanji, Tsolwana & Inkwanca municipalities

By Celeste Barker (MPL), Chris Hani Constituency Leader:

The Democratic Alliance will submit bound copies of over 3000 petitions to the Municipal Demarcation Board today (signatories oppose the amalgamation of the Lukhanji, Tsolwana and Inkwanca Municipalities).

The Democratic Alliance objects to the amalgamation of Lukhanji, Tsolwana & Inkwanca municipalities. Our reasons are the following:

DEBT TO ESKOM

  • Municipal debt to ESKOM is severely out of control;
  • On 31 March, the total arrears for Municipalities of the Eastern Cape stood at R228 million;
  • The trend for overdue municipal debt is for it to double after winter.  Hence, by end September – early October 2015 the total arrears of municipalities in the Eastern Cape is likely to amount to approximately R456 million;
  • The debt total is ageing because of non payment by municipalities (approximately 60% of the debt is overdue by 90 plus days);
  • The Inkwanca Local Municipality owes ESKOM R2 958 739.95 for overdue Bulk and Non Bulk Debt;
  • Inkwanca Municipality also owes ESKOM R74 925.26 for overdue Special Programmes Unit (SPU) arrears;
  • As at 26 May 2015 Free Basic Electricity (FBE) Municipalities owe ESKOM a total of R7 887 499.82;
  • Of this sum R74 092.52 is owed to ESKOM by the Inkwanca Municipality;
  • Hence by end September – early October 2015 the Inkwanca Municipality is likely to owe ESKOM an accumulated overdue sum of approximately R6 million!

STATUS OF LUKHANJI, TSOLWANA AND INKWANCA MUNICIPALITIES

Not one of the three municipalities received a clean audit in the last financial year.  Lukhanji received a disclaimer, Tsolwana an unqualified audit and Inkwanca a disclaimer. Municipalities failed to reach the objective of good, clean governance because of a lack of oversight and failed leadership at higher levels and in 2014 the Inkwanca Council was dissolved and placed under administration.

Three dysfunctional municipalities do not make a successful merger. Particularly as the Inkwanca Municipality is extremely heavily burdened by debt to ESKOM of approximately R6 Million!
PETITIONS

Petitions were circulated in the Lukhanji, Tsolwana and Inkwanca Municipalities. A total of over 3000 signatures were collected. All signatories oppose amalgamation because of the negative effect it will have on residents, municipal finances, the costs attached to re-branding and increased travel among other things.

The Democratic Alliance will submit bound copies of the petitions to the Municipal Demarcation Board at the Queenstown Town Hall today and urges the Board to heed residents’ wishes to retain the status quo of the three separate local municipalities of Lukhanji, Tsolwana and Inkwanca.

Residents have put pen to paper. Please heed their voices!