By Ismail Obaray MPL DA Northern Cape Spokesperson of SCOPA:
The DA wants Renosterberg municipality to make a full disclosure regarding its payment plan to settle its debt with Eskom.
While we welcome the eventual signing of a payment agreement between Renosterberg municipality and Eskom, which has in effect deferred the power utility from switching off power to thousands of residents in Petrusville, Van der Kloof and Phillipstown this coming Friday, we believe it is crucial that there is transparency with regards to this agreement.
This is especially so given that Renosterberg Mayor, Johannes Oliphant, has reportedly said that the municipality has a plan detailing how they intend paying off the R22 million debt to Eskom but that they could not divulge this plan. This does not represent open, accountable and transparent government.
The finances of this municipality have come under much scrutiny since it came to light earlier this year that the municipality was exposed as being the worst performing municipality in the province in the latest section 47 report. Other problems also surfaced, including that cash flow was seriously constrained, they were faced with mounting debts and there was a problem with numerous faulty accounts, as well as water and electricity losses.
Given Renosterberg’s poor financial track record, this local government institution can ill afford to conduct its affairs behind a veil of secrecy. They have, after all, previously defaulted on a prior settlement agreement with Eskom.
Given that Coghsta is currently assisting the municipality with its financial affairs, the DA has today written to Coghsta MEC, Alvin Botes, asking that he publicises Renosterberg’s payment plan. He must also tell us from where this embattled municipality is receiving funding to pay the monthly instalments of R500 000.
The people of Renosterberg have had a narrow escape from the darkness. Government must keep the lights on by conducting its business in an open and transparent manner and not behind closed doors.