Municipality owes R250m for water

2012-05-04 07:13

The Bushbuckridge municipality in Mpumalanga owes the Bushbuckridge Water Board more than R250 million.

Water Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said in response to questions from the DA that the municipality had agreed to pay 50% of its debt to the board by the end of June.

DA legislature member James Masango has presented Molewa’s response to the Mpumalanga legislature.

“The minister confirmed that the municipality has agreed to pay 50% of its debt by the end of June 2012,” Masango said.

He added that 85% of the municipality’s budget came directly from Treasury so there would be serious cashflow problems.

“The problem is that grant funding is being used on other things, but because of poor financial management, no funding exists to pay debts and other developmental programmes.

By not honouring its financial obligations, the Bushbuckridge municipality was “risking the lives and well-being of the rural poor, as water supply has been cut in the past, and could be cut again if non-payment continues”, Masango said.

Premier David Mabuza has over the past two weeks been visiting municipalities in the province to ascertain the extent of water shortages as these relate to infrastructure.

Mabuza has promised to ensure that communities have access to clean water in order to avoid the kinds of community service delivery protests that have engulfed the province over the past three years.

Communities have, in the main, been protesting about water and electricity shortages as well as unemployment.

Mabuza has taken away the responsibility of bulk water supply from municipalities to the Mpumalanga Economic Growth and Development Agency – a parastatal under the Department of Economic Development Tourism and Environment.

Mabuza is yet to unveil a plan of how the parastatal will carry out this task as it has no expertise in water provision.

Masango said that the Bushbuckridge municipality must increase its own income through a proper billing system and by encouraging a culture of payment for services, especially for those who can afford to do so.

“This way the municipality can reduce its dependence on grants,” he said.

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