By Cllr Johan Ligthelm, DA Constituency Chairperson – Thaba Chweu local municipality:
Residents of Thaba Chweu local municipality are once again up in arms over the municipality’s inability to effectively manage its finances, especially when it comes to paying its debt to Eskom.
Thaba Chweu is no stranger to controversy relating to financial mismanagement as earlier this year, the municipality narrowly missed having its electricity supply entirely cut off due to its uncontrolled debt. Presently, the municipality owes Eskom over R260 million, and racks up interest of over R1.8 million a month.
Adding to the frustration of Thaba Chweu residents is the fact that the 144 houses under the Chinese Housing project have been receiving free electricity since April last year. The residents of these houses are not indigents and can afford to pay for electricity but there seems to be no political will to ease the burden on the rest of Thaba Chweu’s residents by ensuring that the Chinese Housing occupants pay for the electricity that they use.
The embattled municipality has been placed under administration in terms of Section 139(1)(b) of the Constitution numerous times, it has seen many task teams come and go and it had shed multiple municipal managers in the past three years alone. Yet, despite all this, the municipality still cannot get a firm grasp on its finances.
The DA calls on Thaba Chweu’s current municipal manager, Lesley Mphaka to show decisive leadership and address the municipality’s electricity situation before it reaches crisis level, by implementing proper financial controls that will drastically reduce irregular and wasteful expenditure.
Mphaka must also ensure that the municipal infrastructure grant funds reach their intended destination, and work towards and increasing and improving service delivery across all communities.
Through the implementation of corrective measures, Thaba Chweu can retain its position as a top tourist destination in Mpumalanga which will significantly contribute to the province’s economic growth.