by Staff Reporter
The Makhanda Business Forum has renewed its calls for the municipality to collect the R759.7 million it is owed by residents, business, industry, and government departments.
The municipality told residents gathered at the Ward Eight and 12 Integrated Development Plan (IDP) meeting in the City Hall on 14 March that government departments owed it R14.8 million.
Business and industry owed R69.4 million. The biggest debtors are residents who owe R672.9 million, although much of this amount is said to be historical arrears, miscalculated bills, or debts built up by indigent residents.
According to documents provided by the municipality at the meeting, R2.6 million is owed by “other”.
“It is your job to collect money, not our job. You have control. It is shameful that you are owed R759 million” said Makhanda Business Forum chairperson Richard Gaybba.
Gaybba said the municipality must reveal exactly how much money it was owed by municipal employees and councillors, who are not permitted to build up arrears on their municipal payments for more than 90 days.
Stating that the budget was “devoid of any reality”, Gaybba queried why the municipality budgeted each year for a surplus of over R100 million, yet the money was nowhere to be found and the municipality was in deficit instead.
He also asked how it was possible for the municipal budget for 2021/22 to be about R607 million, and for the Auditor-General to find R577.4 million of unauthorised expenditure and R7.8 million of fruitless and wasteful expenditure in the same year.
“That means you can only account for R30 million” Gaybba said to the municipal executive team members who were present.
One year ago, the Supreme Court of Appeal ordered the provincial government to make sure that Makana municipality abided by a financial recovery plan imposed in 2021 after the municipality built up over R800 million in debt.
Gaybba said the municipality’s budget did not align with the compulsory financial recovery plan.
“The ship has sunk, it is not sinking. There is a lack of response. We need swift action and accountability” he added.
Municipal manager Phumelelo Kate said the municipality had developed an action plan to address financial irregularities and it would be tabled in the next Council meeting.