South Africa 31.7.2018 09:37 am

DA alleges Mpumalanga municipalities owe govt departments nearly R1bn

Dr Gwendoline Ramokgopa (Deputy Health Minister) and James Masango (DA Mpumalanga spokesman: Cogta) in earnest conversation during the by-election on 18 July.

Dr Gwendoline Ramokgopa (Deputy Health Minister) and James Masango (DA Mpumalanga spokesman: Cogta) in earnest conversation during the by-election on 18 July.

The party also alleged the national departments of public works and agriculture owed a combined R354.8m to municipalities in Mpumalanga.

According to the Democratic Alliance (DA), Mpumalanga is cash-strapped as municipalities owe more than R984.4 million to provincial and national government departments for services rendered, Standerton Advertiser reports.

“More than R864.6 million is more than 90 days in arrears,” James Masango, Mpumalanga spokesperson on the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta), said.

READ MORE: Coca-Cola truck set alight in Mpumalanga service delivery protest

According to the fourth-quarter performance report for Cogta, the worst offending departments are:

Public Works – R389.4 million

Education – R76.9 million

Health – R41 million

Culture, Sports and Recreation – R 26.8 million

Agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs – R26.4 million

The DA added the national departments of public works as well as rural development and land reform owed a combined total of R354.8 million to municipalities in Mpumalanga.

“This is an indication that municipalities struggle with rampant corruption and financial mismanagement that hamper service delivery, both provincially and nationally,” Masango also said.

According to him, the departments have recused themselves from tackling the challenges facing local government and instead chose to disrupt service delivery further by withholding money due to municipalities.

The money owed could have been used to settle outstanding Eskom debt since four Mpumalanga municipalities are currently among the top 10 municipalities to default on paying their debt.

“We will write to Premier Refilwe Mtshweni, asking her to ensure that all these departments, including the defaulting national departments, settle their debt as a matter of urgency because by withholding money due to municipalities, they are effectively stealing from the people of Mpumalanga,” Masango concluded.

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