Free State municipalities in dire straits, treasury intervenes

Free State municipalities in dire straits, treasury intervenes

Photo: Jessica Gaba

This comes shortly after the DA in the provincial legislature raised concerns over the state of the Maluti-A-Phofung municipality and the collapse of services.

The financial state of Free State municipalities continue to be a matter of great concern, prompting calls for interventions by newly appointed finance MEC Gadija Brown.

Addressing the media yesterday on her 10th day in office, Brown said municipal financial woes, their lack of revenue collection, and collapse of services are among the pressing issues that the provincial department of finance is concerned with.

Brown said they have thus far engaged four municipalities – Masilonyana, Mafube, Kopanong, and Mohokare – on their state of affairs, and measures that could be taken to help them out of their financial rut.

The MEC confirmed that they are currently in the process of establishing a municipal financial recovery services unit, to support these municipalities and others that are distressed.

This programme, once established, will be implemented in conjunction with the provincial department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs.

“When we looked into supporting these municipalities, we didn’t only look at their finances, but at innovative mechanisms that could be implemented to bring about change, for example through solar systems and water reticulation systems and so forth,” said Brown.

Her focus on municipalities come just weeks after the DA in the provincial legislature raised concerns over the state of the Maluti-A-Phofung municipality and the collapse of services.

This cash-strapped municipality is among 18 Free State municipalities needing urgent intervention, as it owes the water board and power supplier more than R3.8 billion.

Coupled to this, it has made news over its nonpayment of salaries and contributions to third parties.

OFM News last month reported on the equipment belonging to the municipality that was seized by the sheriff of the court due to failure to pay Eskom. This led to it being listed alongside Matjhabeng local municipality.

Brown has also vowed to ensure that turnaround strategies at municipal level and in the different departments are implemented to keep costs low and to make room for the youth.

She said every department will be required to ensure that they have a budget to accommodate the youth and the disabled.

OFM News

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