Powerful minister has R35 000 power bill
Lizel Steenkamp Beeld
Cape Town – Sicelo Shiceka, minister of co-operative governance and traditional affairs, owes the Johannesburg municipality in the region of R35 000, but it’s unclear whether his water and electricity have been cut off, as was the case with 16 000 other residents.
Vuyelwa Vika, Shiceka’s spokesperson, said on Sunday she doesn’t know what the situation is at the minister’s private home in Midrand.
Shiceka didn’t answer his cellphone, and neither Kgamanyane Maphologela, Johannesburg’s municipal spokesperson for income and client services, nor Amos Masondo, mayor, nor the Gauteng premier’s office were able to answer this question.
“The minister would like to pay his municipal account, but he’s not going to pay thousands of rands for something that cannot be explained,” Vika said.
According to her, Shiceka is yet another victim of the municipality’s chaotic accounts system and “it’s been going on like that for years”.
He first queried an exorbitant municipal account in 2008. The situation hasn’t changed over the past three years.
“At that stage he hardly spent two days per week at his house, but received accounts which the municipality could not explain. He thought someone was illegally tapping his electricity.”
Account keeps increasing
The municipality said it would investigate, but to date the minister hasn’t heard anything about the matter.
Shiceka has since moved to a ministerial residence in Pretoria.
“His house in Midrand is empty, but the account keeps increasing. He wants an explanation before he pays,” Vika said.
The electricity of many residents’ with similar, faulty municipal accounts has been cut off since January 1.
Shiceka stepped in last week and gave the Gauteng department of housing and local governance until February 18 to come up with a plan to solve Johannesburg’s problem with accounts.
He also wants to launch a national investigation into the accounts systems of all municipalities.
“Municipalities are so busy with accounts that service delivery is neglected,” Vika said.
The Sunday Times reported on Sunday that Masondo sent a letter about Shiceka’s outstanding debt to Humphrey Mmemezi, Gauteng MEC for housing and local governance, as well as Nomvula Mokonyane, premier of Gauteng.
Spokespersons for Masondo and Mmemezi couldn’t confirm this on Sunday, but according to Vika it’s “a pity” that the focus is on the minister’s personal business while thousands of residents are being inconvenienced.