By George Michalakis, DA Free State Permanent Delegate to the National Council of Provinces:
The National and the Free State Provincial Government owe municipalities in the province almost R500 million in unpaid rates and taxes. This was revealed in a written reply to a question submitted by the DA to the National Minister of COGTA, Mr Pravin Gordhan.
The inability by both the national and provincial governments to pay their municipal bills have a direct negative impact on the ability of municipalities to deliver even the most basic of services to our people.
The Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality is owed almost R292 million in outstanding rates and taxes and other Free State district and local municipalities almost R202 million.
The Provincial Department of Public Works owe municipalities almost R200 million in unpaid rates and taxes. This amount alone can go a long way in assisting municipalities to pay for bulk services from ESKOM and various water boards which are collectively owed R3,2 billion.
This pervasive culture of non-payment by the ANC at various spheres government has an adverse impact on the quality of life of our people in the province.
Unsurprisingly, ANC governments at all spheres are now playing a game of internal tit-for-tat at threatening to suspend services. It is the ANC-led national government that decided to withhold the equitable share of 13 Free State municipalities for failure to pay bulk suppliers.
It is the ANC-governed Matjhabeng Local Municipality that disconnected the electricity supply to 79 no-fee schools managed by the ANC-led Department of Basic Education due to non-payment by the Provincial Department of Public Works.
It’s a catastrophe that, while various ANC governments at different spheres are playing politics with the mess they collectively created, the people of the Free State are always the ones to bear the brunt of the ANC’s incompetence, poor governance and infighting.
Only a DA government can turn this situation around.