Despite 50% discounts, municipality battling to collect debt

2013-10-02 00:00

DESPITE offering 50% discounts, the Msunduzi Municipality is finding it difficult to collect long-outstanding electricity and water accounts.

The municipality announced recently that as part of Pietermaritzburg’s 175th birthday celebrations, it would launch a debt collection campaign by offering a special amnesty to long-term debtors with large amounts outstanding on their utility bills. It was hoped that the campaign, which started on September 1 and ends on May 31 next year, would reduce the R1,4 billion on the city’s debtors’ book.

Msunduzi spokesperson Brian Zuma said the amnesty was not applicable to rates debt, but could be taken advantage of for service debts — electricity, water, sewerage, refuse collection and sundry debt — and only for accounts that were 120 days and older. In terms of the amnesty, for each rand the debtor pays towards the debt, the municipality will reduce the arrears by an equivalent amount.

However, a primary condition is that all current monthly accounts must be paid in full on or before the due date. The discounts will be credited at the end of each month and the credit towards the arrears account will appear the month following the billing date.

In addition, the amnesty only applies to residential households, flats and small home businesses. Residential household accounts registered under business names and/or body corporates do not qualify.

Zuma said the campaign is also extended to old-age homes and other such entities, but excludes all municipal staff and councillors.

According to municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi, the aim was to help clear the debtors’ book. He said the older a debt, the more doubtful it became that the council would be paid. The once-off amnesty was designed to create the space for debtors to come forward and pay. Nkosi said that if the city achieved only a 40% collection rate from the campaign, it would be able to shave off more than R128 million in debt.

For more information, call the Msunduzi credit control section at 033 392 2707 or e-mail

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