Former Msunduzi deputy mayor Mervyn Dirks owes the City more than R60 000 for rates and municipal services for his Woodlands property, but has not been cut off. Currently a Member of Parliament (MP), Dirks on Thursday acknowledged his debt to the municipality, saying that he had made “an arrangement” to pay his debt off over time. The municipal account for Dirks’ property in Magnolia Road in Woodlands was leaked to The Witness on Thursday and it revealed that he owes R62 192,13 for rates and municipal services rendered. Almost R50 000 of this amount has been in the red for more than 90 days, with the balance having accumulated since then. When contacted by The Witness, Dirks admitted his municipal account was in arrears, adding that he had “inherited” most of the debt when he inherited the property from his late mother. Dirks said his mother died about three years ago and since then he had renovated her home and moved into it with his family. He said he had arranged to pay the municipality back “over time”.“Yes, I do acknowledge the debt on this property. I am aware of it and I am sorting it out as I have made an arrangement with the municipality,” Dirks said.But opposition parties and ratepayers’ associations criticised him, saying the MP should be setting a good example to residents by paying in good time for the services he has used. Deputy leader for the DA Mergan Chetty said that it was “unacceptable” that no action had been taken against Dirks for his debt. “He has not been disconnected or evicted. This lack of action is an epidemic that this council has fallen into. Those cadres closest benefit while the poorest of the poor are left to suffer,” Chetty said. Referring to a series of eviction letters served on residents living in the Manor and Willow Gardens flats, Chetty said that poor residents who are unemployed are threatened with disconnection and eviction for their accounts being in arrears “whilst an MP who is earning a great salary is given leniency”.Chetty alleged that Manor and Willow Gardens flats residents were told their eviction notices would be suspended but said that it was only a ploy to get the residents to vote for the ruling party during a recent by-election in their ward. Chetty said that shortly after the DA won the ward, the residents had their eviction notices reactivated.Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha did not respond to questions regarding this allegation or Dirks’ account. Dennis Ntombela of the IFP said it was not acceptable for a person in Dirks’ position to have his municipal account in arrears amounting to that much. Chairperson of the Scottsville Ratepayers Association, Peter Green, described Dirks’ big municipal account as “outrageous”.He called on the municipality to immediately disconnect municipal services at Dirks’ property until the full amount was paid. “With his [Dirks] salary, surely he can afford it but this just shows what preference the ANC gives to its own,” Green said.