Councillors’ debts still outstanding

2013-06-11 00:00

SEVEN ANC councillors and one from the DA in the Msunduzi Municipality owed more than R131 920 in unpaid rates and services.

After this was uncovered last year, the total decreased to R111 457,22 after three councillors, including the DA member, had settled their debts.

Responding to questions in the legislature last month, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube said arrangements had been made to recoup the money.

Debt figures provided by Cogta indicate that only three councillors had settled their debts, while the remaining five made little or no effort to pay their dues.

Tholakele Dlamini’s debt has risen from about R3 100 to about R3 800, while Zonke Mbatha’s account has decreased from R2 933 to about R2 594. Vusumzi Mlete’s account has risen from about R48 568 to about R48 664, while Dumisani Phungula’s account sits at about R32 600. Philisiwe Sithole’s account shot up from about R13 700 to about R19 700, according to the Cogta report.

In the report, Dube said the councillors were briefed by the accounting officer and the mayor, and recovery arrangements through the payroll system were put in place. Councillors also signed acknowledgements of debt, including for interest.

The implicated councillors confirmed the details, but referred The Witness to the municipal manager, Mxolisi Nkosi, for further details. He could not be reached.

In March, ANC provincial chairperson and KZN Premier Zweli Mkhize ordered municipalities to recoup monies owed by councillors.

“We have made the point that those councillors who owe municipalities for services must be made to pay,” said Mkhize at the time.

DA spokesperson on Cogta George Mari said while some councillors have started paying their debts, it was disturbing that some had not made any attempt.

“This makes a mockery of the MEC’s response that councillors were briefed by the accounting officer and mayor, and that arrangements have been put in place to recover the outstanding debt with an acknowledgement of debt signed and monies recovered from the payroll,” he said.

Mari added: “The MEC needed to explain how this has been allowed to happen … She has exposed a loophole to be taken advantage of by other unscrupulous public servants. Ordinary ratepayers have their services cut off if they don’t pay for them. Yet, in Msunduzi it appears that there are individuals who believe that they are exempt from such action. Such arrogance brings into question their suitability as representatives of the public.”

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