According to a statement by the DA on Thursday, five Mpumalanga municipalities are under consideration to be placed under administration in terms of section 139 (1)(b) of the Constitution for gross financial mismanagement.
This was confirmed by Cogta MEC Speedy Mashilo during the SALGA Mpumalanga Provincial Members Assembly.
The DA’s James Masango said that under the leadership of former premier David Mabuza, now the country’s deputy president, “local government in Mpumalanga was brought to its knees as service delivery collapsed and money meant for the people was used to line the pockets of those in Mabuza’s network of patronage”.
“While placing eMalahleni, Govan Mbeki, Msukaligwa, Thaba Chweu and Lekwa local municipalities under administration will at the very least pause the rot in these municipalities, nothing will change unless all those implicated in the corrupt dealings that have crippled these municipalities are arrested and barred from dealing with public money.
“In a meeting with between Cogta and the Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), it was revealed that five Mpumalanga municipalities currently owe Eskom a combined total of R4.4 billion. This is a R2 billion increase from December 2017.”
Masango said that, nationally, 20 defaulting municipalities including the five from Mpumalanga, currently owed Eskom R10 billion.
“MEC Mashilo must really question how eMalahleni keeps return millions to CoGTA while they owe almost R2 billion to Eskom. This clearly shows lack of political will, financial mismanagement, and incapacity as a result of Cadre Deployment.
Below is a list of the top five Mpumalanga municipalities that contribute to the Eskom debt:
|1. eMalahleni||R1.9 billion|
|2. Govan Mbeki||R684 million|
|3. Lekwa||R563 million|
|4. Thaba Chweu||R494 million|
|5. City of Mbombela||R307 million|
Masango added that the recent increase in debt showed that the provinces’ municipalities were still struggling to settle their Eskom accounts, largely due to political interference in the revenue collection processes.
“It also shows that apart from only paying interest, these defaulting municipalities will once again find themselves upon Eskom’s disconnection list.
“Serious intervention is needed to bring financial stability to these municipalities, as placing them under administration alone will not solve the problems caused by years of corruption.”
The DA called on Mashilo to ensure that the intervention was not just a smoke screen to “make the people of Mpumalanga believe they are finally free from David Mabuza’s mafia-like grip” on the province, but that the intervention was accompanied by sound financial recovery plans that would ensure that money meant for the people was spent on the people.