How Mettler is mending Msunduzi

2010-08-25 00:00

CITY administrator Johann Mettler, brought in to rescue a cash- strapped Msunduzi Municipality, is no longer seen as Mr Nice Guy as he and his team get tough on raising revenue and collecting outstanding debt.

In a report card on page 11 today, Mettler gives a detailed account of progress made in turning the city around.

He describes a municipality brought to its knees by bankruptcy, cover-ups, crippling debt and financial abuse.

Mettler says the abuse was like nothing he has ever seen before. and that his first impression of Pietemaritzburg was that this was the filthiest city he had ever seen.

Mending Maritzburg started with having to put a budget in place where none existed.

The city is a R2 billion-a-year operation with a staff of 4 000 and five major departments.

National Treasury deadlines were long overdue and it was a race against time to meet legal requirements.

The process revealed a bankrupt city caught between a rock and a hard place as it juggled how to pay salaries and an unrelenting Eskom, which wanted its money.

The turnaround team is to meet Eskom early in September to discuss a way forward.

However, with no bail-out from National Treasury, the team has got tough on revenue collection, angering many residents who question the tactics it has adopted.

Mettler’s reports covers tariffs, rates, progress on forensic investigations and the way forward to prevent such a catastrophe from happening again.

He thanked the KwaZulu-Natal provincial executive not only for intervening in the crisis, but also for allowing the intervention team to proceed with its work.

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