Council members of the Mangaung Metro – where a part-time councillor’s monthly earning is more than R35 000 – owe the municipality more than R600 000 for municipal services rendered. The R600 000 owed by the council members is part of the muni-cipality’s total outstanding debt of R3,944 billion. The debt of the Free State government owed to the metro totals R529,9 million.On Tuesday, 31 January, Hans Britz, DA councillor, speaking during the council meeting to discuss the council’s financial report for the six months ending on 31 December, expressed grave concern. He sarcastically mimicked the laugh of Pres. Jacob Zuma when he said the overall debt of Mangaung now amounted to more than R3,944 billion. Council members laughed in amusement at his imitation.Britz said that over the last five years, the had DA kept hearing that ANC councillors in the ANC-controlled municipality got good results with debt collection and that the provincial government did not owe money to the municipality. The municipality will be able to pay its creditors if it recovers debt due, Britz said. “If we look at the statements for the year ending 30 June 2016, the municipality already owed more than R600 000 for municipal services. Besides, it was only debt that was older than 90 days.” Britz said the government did not pay and councillors also did not pay. “A total of R2,191 billion of the total outstanding debt is 12 months overdue. This represents 54% of the debt, which means many consumers – nearly half of them – over the past 12 months or longer have not paid.“If we look at the residents’ strong reaction to the most recent high water tariff, the conditions are not favorable. If even more people stop paying, it could cause the metro to collapse financially.”ANC councillor Lulama Titi Odili, executive mayoral committee member for finance, said that the ANC acknowledged that the debt was high. “Water rates will have to be assessed very ugently. We are also in the process of disconnecting the water supply of businesses with large debts.” She said the metro had already installed 5 783 prepaid water meters. “We are going to recover councillors’ debt due to the municipality via debit order.”Odili said with effect this week, the Mangaung Metro would begin its annual marketing campaign to encourage people to pay.