City of Joburg Executive Mayor Herman Mashaba told Gauteng Premier David Makhura not to expect special favours under his administration as the ongoing furore over the Gauteng provincial government’s long-term nonpayment for municipal services took another turn yesterday.
Mashaba has given the Gauteng government 30 days to either pay the outstanding R259 million or enter into acceptable repayment agreements with the city, saying he is “simply doing his job”.
The department of infrastructure and development owes R161 million, the department of human settlements’ debt is R39 million and the department of health’s R59 million, he has said.
In response, Makhura expressed concern about the tone of Mashaba’s statement and its implications for the constitutional imperative of cooperative governance.
“The fact that there are new mayors who have not taken the time to familiarise themselves with our work does not mean issues raised have not been dealt with,” Makhura said.
But Mashaba was unfazed yesterday, saying: “There was nothing wrong with my tone and I am simply doing my job.
“They must follow the process expected of any defaulting resident.”
Mashaba urged the departments concerned to urgently comply within the timeframe to avoid the city having to take immediate action and cut off services.
“If I were to ignore the massive debt owed by the province, what kind of message would I be sending to the residents of our city?” Mashaba said, adding that under the new DA-led administration the politically connected would no longer be protected at the expense of ordinary residents.
“The government needs to set the example to residents and if we are going to begin a process of fixing the billing crisis in our city, and collecting the enormous debt owed, we expect government departments to lead from the front,” he said.
“These departments annually budget for the payment of rates and services and there is no excuse to default to the extent of R259 million. This money belongs to the residents of Joburg and is needed in our pursuit of upgrading infrastructure and delivering better services to our people, particularly in the poorest areas.”
The provincial government said it made a commitment in 2014 to ensure challenges relating to billing and its unpaid municipal rates were addressed.