Lekwa municipality face consequences after ignoring DA proposal

By James Masango MPL, DA Spokesperson on CoGTA:

Planned power cuts in Lekwa municipality by Eskom could have been avoided, only if the ring fencing of ratepayers’ monthly electricity payments which was adopted in council on 29 January 2015 was implemented.

Last year, when Eskom announced that it would cut bulk electricity supply to 20 municipalities in the country which owed the cash-strapped utility R3.68 billion in unpaid power bills, the DA had already put forward a proposal to the council in Lekwa to ring fence ratepayers’ electricity payments. This concept was successfully adopted.

In May last year, the municipality signed an agreement with Eskom to make monthly payments in order to service its debt. But the municipality defaulted on the agreement since October 2015.

According to Eskom the municipality owes the utility over R206 million which has been outstanding and escalating since 2011. The utility has given the municipality until 4 March 2016 to make written submissions indicating why it should not disconnect their electricity supply on 11 April 2016.

The proposed ring fencing of ratepayers’ monthly electricity payments was meant to avoid the money being used to fund the operational budget of the municipality, and instead pay Eskom.

It is unacceptable that the municipality has ignored to execute a council resolution. This is once again a clear indication that the ANC led government does not put the interest of the people first.

The municipality’s leadership has proved that it is incapable to deal with its finances resulting in poor to no service deliver to the community of Lekwa.

According to the Accountant General, as of March 2015, Mpumalanga municipalities were in arrears to Eskom (outstanding debt) to the amount of R 1.847 billion.

MEC for CoGTA, Refilwe Mtshweni must place the municipality under administration with immediate effect.

The people of Lekwa and Mpumalanga at large must realise that they have the opportunity to elect a government that delivers better services, cuts corruption and creates jobs. It is crucial for them to know that they have the power to bring about change in their communities.

DA reiterates calls to COGHSTA to help keep the lights on in local municipalities

By Ismail Obaray, DA Northern Cape Provincial Spokesperson of SCOPA:

The DA is reiterating our call to MEC Alvin Botes to urgently place the Renosterberg Local Municipality under administration in terms of section 139 of the Constitution.

We are also calling for high level interventions into the Thembelhile, Ubuntu, Magareng and Dikgatlong municipalities.

This follows the publication of notices of disconnection of bulk electricity supplies to Renosterberg on Monday, 25 January 2016, and to the other municipalities on Friday, 29 January.

The DA is aggrieved that, despite commitments made by MEC of COGHSTA, Alvin Botes, as well as National Minister of COGHSTA, David Van Rooyen that they would assist municipalities which are indebted to Eskom in a move to prevent electricity disconnections, the lights are still going to be switched off.

It’s clear that words are cheap and Eskom’s tariffs are not.

The DA first called for Renosterberg municipality to be placed under administration in June last year, after the municipality was exposed as being the worst performing municipality in the province in the latest section 47 report. Amongst other problems, it came to light that cash flow was seriously constrained and there was a problem with numerous faulty accounts as well as water and electricity losses.

Shortly thereafter, the Mayor of Renosterberg Municipality, Zet Kwinana, was redeployed elsewhere and promises were made that better suited leadership would resolve the challenges.

However, after six months and repeated calls to provincial COGHSTA for interventions, the municipality still does not have a strategy to make adequate arrangements to cover its outstanding payments to Eskom.

Despairingly, similar situations prevail in Thembelhile, Ubuntu, Magareng and Dikgatlong municipalities as well.

It is not fair that the people living in these Northern Cape towns have to suffer as a result of local government’s incompetence. Electricity is our primary source of heat and light.  Without it people struggle to cook, study and so forth and without it there will be dire repercussions for industry and our economy.

The DA believes it is government’s moral duty, as enshrined in the Constitution, to ensure that everyone has access to the basic services they need to improve their lives.

Where the DA governs we work to ensure that all creditors of the municipality are paid within legal timeframes, and in the Western Cape DA municipalities pay their Eskom bills on time.

Hopes of high level interventions in ailing Northern Cape municipalities look futile. The only real and long term hope for residents of the Northern Cape now is to vote out ANC councils and vote in the DA so that we can keep the lights on and do for the people of this province what the DA-run municipalities in the Western Cape are doing for their people.

Municipal “go-slow” strikes continue: MEC is silent

By Jacques Smalle MPL, DA Provincial Spokesperson COGHSTA:

The DA is deeply concerned that Limpopo Cooperative Governance MEC, Makoma Makhurupetje is turning a blind eye and failing to act on the ongoing municipal “go slow” strikes in two municipalities that has left residents without water and electricity since November 2015.

More than 500 employees including those providing essential services such as the provision of household water and electricity downed their tools, leaving dams and reservoirs unattended.

The employees of Vhembe District Municipality are protesting against the municipality’s failure to pay them subsidies that was a condition attached to their transfer from the Department of Water Affairs to the municipality in 2005.

The disgruntled employees also demand that the appointment of the municipal manager to be reversed and the Political Management Team removed from office.

In Greater Letaba Municipality , workers also downed their tools due to the non payment of over time incentives. More than 500 households in Duiwelskloof are without water and electricity since December 2015 due to the “go slow” strike.

The DA written to MEC Makoma Makhurupetje seeking an urgent meeting with her to discuss the go slow strikes that hamper service delivery in the affected municipalities.

The MEC’s failure to intervene is a clear indication that she does not care about Limpopo residents and these poor governance and recklessness displayed by the MEC is unfortunately hitting the poorest the hardest.

The DA now calls upon Premier Mathabatha to take decisive decision and to engage with the workers to resolve their grievances to normalise service delivery in both municipalities.

Water crisis in Themba hospital and surrounding areas risks raising unemployment

By James Masango MPL, Spokesperson on CoGTA:

The Mbombela local municipality is yet to find a permanent solution to the water crises that has been experienced in Themba hospital and surrounding areas since 2011.

Once again, patients and staff in the Kabokweni based hospital are forced to do without clean running water because the municipality is still failing to deal with illegal connections, leaks, and failing infrastructure.

According to media reports, patients at the hospital are unable to take baths, and don’t have drinking water, hospital staff are also left without water to clean. Relatives of these patients are left with no choice, but to bring water from their respective homes.

The DA is extremely concerned that since the dawn of democracy, the Mbombela local municipality cannot or do not have the ability to deliver quality essential services. The unhygienic living conditions in the hospital will cause major health risks.

Without water people are being compromised in their ability to work, and risk poor performance and possible job losses.

According to Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), unemployment in Mpumalanga is standing at 26.2%.

Last week, the DA launched its Jobs Campaign where South Africans are shown how the party plans to create job opportunities by following these five simple steps:

  1. Invest in integrated energy, transport and ICT infrastructure for job creation;
  2. Give more people the education and skills they need to get a job;
  3. Radically reform the labour regime to support job creation;
  4. Provide direct incentives for job creation; and
  5. Create a nation of entrepreneurs by making it easier for South Africans to start and grow their own small businesses.

Figures are showing that millions of South Africans have joined the ranks of the unemployed since the beginning of President Jacob Zuma’s tenure.

Letaba service delivery shutdown for overtime pay must be addressed by MEC

By Jacques Smalle MPL, DA Provincial Spokesperson COGHSTA:

The DA has written to the Limpopo Cooperative Governance MEC, Makoma Makhurupetje seeking an urgent meeting with her to discuss the non payment of over time incentives to Greater Letaba Municipal workers.

This “go slow” strike is being lead by officials providing essential services such as water and electricity and has left more than 500 households in Duiwelskloof without water and electricity since December 2015.

During the strike I witnessed workers sabotaging 680 metres of electrical cable, fuses supplying the CBD area and water supply infrastructure including valves and taps hoping to get attention from the municipality to address their grievances that fell on deaf ears.

Schools, clinics and business have been badly affected by the sabotage of the infrastructure.

The 500 school learners of Kings Court School could not start their first day of school due to no electricity and water.

Lack of engagement by the ANC municipal management and officials could have been avoided if early warning signs were addressed.

The DA urges MEC Makhurupetje to intervene by establishing a task team that will probe into the non payment of these workers and to assess the damage caused by the workers.

During the meeting, the DA will urge MEC to consider laying criminal charges against these officials that destroyed the electricity and water supply infrastructure.

ANC govt. cars for traditional leaders looks like bribery

By Jacques Smalle MPL, DA Provincial Spokesperson COGHSTA:

The DA has noted with dismay that Limpopo Premier, Stan Mathabatha, has awarded 184 traditional leaders from various districts across the province with brand new vehicles to the tune of R89 million during the festive season, in what looks like an attempt to buy votes.

Spending such amount of money on vehicles is a clear indication that ANC is too desperate to get votes and opted to utilize the taxpayer’s coffers to boost their 2016 local government electioneering campaign.

We acknowledge the role that the traditional leaders are playing and agree that they must be supported with necessary tools of trade to lead their communities. The DA will never dispute this.

However, the DA is deeply concerned that traditional leaders are continuously being used and bribed with cars and subsidies to secure their votes for the ANC in government elections.

This proves that ANC is desperate to win the local government elections at all costs to the expense of taxpayers.

This is not the first time the ANC used the similar tactics to win votes.

In 2008, the then-Premier Sello Moloto also awarded the same traditional leaders vehicles, just ahead of the 2009 National elections, as part of the ANC campaign to get votes.

The DA believes that the R89 million could have been much better used to do the following:

  • To improve the bulk infrastructure in various municipalities which is in a broken state
  • To boost draught relieve measures to get food growing and ensure food security
  • To build more than 20 new schools and improve education outcomes
  • To repair roads and bridges destroyed by storms
  • Build more than 600 RDP houses
  • Paying for more than 3000 bursaries

The DA will never allow our respected traditional leaders to be used to pursue their poor communities, by simply being given vehicles while failing to provide our rural people with services such as water and houses.

The DA has already submitted questions in the Provincial Legislature and to the MEC for COGHSTA to establish the whereabouts and state of conditions of the previous vehicles donated in 2008 and the history of their maintenance and where the R89 million has come from.

Gauteng housing MEC out of touch with department’s promises

By Lebo More MPL, DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Petitions and Cooperative Governance:

Thousands of Gauteng residents will not realise their dream for decent housing due to the false promises made by MEC of Human Settlements Jacob Mamabolo.

The department of Human Settlements continues to degenerate with no effective leadership, planning and transparency.

Consequently, MEC Mamabolo fumbled on information contained in his department’s annual report for 2014/15 financial year.

The annual report indicates that the department built 52 houses in Sokhulumi Village, Tshwane, yet this is not the case.

In a written response to a DA question, the MEC said that the 52 housing units were actually completed in Ithembalethu, Krugersdorp.

In fact, a mere 26 slabs have been completed in the Sokhulumi Project. Contractual disputes have delayed the project with the contract valid until March 2016.

After the DA verified the true state of affairs, MEC Mamabolo suddenly retracted and argued that there was an error on the annual report.

It is clear that the MEC statements are hopelessly out of touch with the truth, which begs the question whether he is aware of what goes on in his department.

While the people of Gauteng are in desperate need for the delivery of decent housing, the ANC-run government continues to deliver sanitized speeches promising unrealistic goals.

The DA is determined to bring a reliable and responsive government to the people of Gauteng.

Gauteng metros collectively lose over 88 billion kilolitres of water

By Fred Nel MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Cooperative Governance:

A total of 88,177 billion kilolitres of water losses were reported in Gauteng’s three metropolitan municipalities from July 2014 to June 2015.

This is enough to fill approximately 35 000 Olympic sized swimming pools.

The MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Jacob Mamabolo, revealed this information in a written reply to a DA question in the Gauteng Legislature.

(Click here to view the reply)

These water losses were largely due to flaws in the metering and billing systems in Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni.

Furthermore, the MEC ascribes the massive losses to illegal connections, physical leaks and reservoir overflows.

Old pipe replacement projects for the 2015/16 financial year will collectively cost the three metros R1,785 billion.

The City of Johannesburg alone will fork out R3, 138 billion over the next three years to replace pipes, faulty meters and install pressure reducing valves.

Where it governs, the DA has reduced water losses to below 21% through the effective implementation of an array of strategies.

Joburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni can take a leaf out of the DA-run City of Cape Town’s book to reduce the amount of losses and revenue being spent on frivolous programmes.

The 2016 Local Government Elections is fast approaching and the DA can deliver these programmes to cut water losses and improve services when it wins Tshwane, Joburg and Ekurhuleni.

Mpumalanga’s municipalities performance has deteriorated

By James Masango MPL, DA spokesperson on CoGTA:

The following motion without notice was delivered by DA spokesperson on CoGTA, James Masango MPL, during a sitting at Ehlanzeni District Council Chambers today.

Honourable Speaker.

I rise to move a motion without notice on behalf of the Democratic Alliance, noting that:

The Municipal Finance Management Act Audit outcomes are the most readily interrogated indicators of municipal performance.

The Audit looks at municipalities’ ability to manage their budget, adhere to key legislation and the state of governance and leadership in the municipalities.

Further noting that the performance on the Municipal IQ’s index of audit results over the past 10 years show how Western Cape, KZN and Gauteng performed way above the other provinces.

The index further indicates slight improvements in Limpopo, the North West, Free State, Eastern Cape and the Northern Cape.

Hon. members, we should be ashamed that Mpumalanga is the only province to have shown an outright deterioration in municipal performance over the past 10 years.

Corruption and a lack of political will are definitely to blame.

I move that this house:

Mandate the MEC of CoGTA to put credible plans in place, which will enforce our municipalities to perform better in audit outcomes, and to ensure that municipalities recruit employees with relevant competent skills.

I so move.

Dark Christmas for Gariep

By Kevin Mileham MP, DA Shadow Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs:

The Democratic Alliance notes with extreme concern that the residents of Gariep Municipality face a holiday season without electricity arising from the municipality’s inability to manage its own finances.

In May 2015, when this crisis was last averted through protracted efforts by the DA at national, provincial and local level, the municipality had arrear debt to Eskom in excess of R34 million. At that time, the municipality was required to enter into a debt repayment agreement with Eskom, which, if it had been adhered to would have seen the municipality out of arrears with the parastatal by June 2016.

Unfortunately, due to poor financial management, and the lack of proper leadership (both within the administration and council), the situation has deteriorated and the municipality has failed to honour its obligations to Eskom.

Among the causes of this are the lack of a Chief Financial Officer (the former CFO resigned in 2014, and the acting CFO appointed to replace him in September 2015). It now appears that, despite a moratorium on the appointment of new staff due to the pending amalgamation of Gariep and Maletswai, the Gariep Municipal Council wishes to secretly appoint a CFO on a 3 year contract, rather than seeking a secondment from provincial treasury or the Department of Cooperative Governance.

The DA calls on the Mayor and Municipal Manager to immediately open up the debate around these issues to public input, to come clean with the citizens of Gariep about what the true situation is regarding the municipal finances and in particular, the arrear debt to Eskom. I will today write to the MEC for Cooperative Governance in the Eastern Cape, Fikile Xasa, requesting that he intervene in the municipality by deploying a qualified financial expert to the municipality until the 2016 Local Government Elections in terms of S139(5) of the Constitution to get the finances back on to a sound footing and to avert the potential cut off of electricity by Eskom.

The DA will ensure that, where we govern, citizens are not disadvantaged by the maladministration and incompetence of municipal officials. We will place the municipality onto a sound financial footing, that can ensure that all residents receive the services to which they are entitled. We cannot continue to allow corruption and malpractice to drive once thriving municipalities into the ground.