Thirsty Christmas for Eskom boss

2017-12-24 00:00
The posh neighbourhoods on the shores of Hartbeespoort Dam, where water throttling has been imposed on the Madibeng municipality

The posh neighbourhoods on the shores of Hartbeespoort Dam, where water throttling has been imposed on the Madibeng municipality

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For the record: In this article titled Thirsty Christmas for Eskom boss published on December 24, City Press misidentified the Hartebeespoort Dam estate where Brian Molefe lives.

City Press visited a lifestyle estate at the dam and observed three leaking water slides, however this estate was not The Coves as reported.

The Coves governing body chairperson Elspeth Flatau said the estate does not receive water supply from the local Madibeng Municipality and relies on borehole water.

City Press apologises for the error and regrets any inconvenience caused.

- Updated: 16 January 2018



Former Eskom boss Brian Molefe’s house will be short on water this Christmas.

Molefe’s family are among thousands of others who live in North West’s Madibeng Municipality, which will be affected by water throttling imposed by Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane.

Madibeng, which boasts luxurious estates and palatial homes along the banks of Hartbeespoort Dam, hasn’t paid its R59.8m water bill to the department.

Now the municipality’s water supply is being throttled by 20%, a measure Mokonyane’s spokesperson Mlimandlela Ndamase said was imposed “immediately” after she made the announcement more than a week ago.

Molefe confirmed he was a resident of Broederstroom, which falls under Madibeng Municipality, but declined to comment on whether he had water or not.

This week, City Press visited a lifestyle estate at Hartbeespoort Dam, where Molefe lives, and there appeared to be no water shortage, with three leaking water slides erected at the estate’s clubhouse.

Madibeng is one of five municipalities where water supply is now being throttled because they haven’t paid their water bills.

Others include Mpumalanga’s Msukaligwa Local Municipality, Free State’s Maluti-a-Phofung and Mafube and North West’s Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality, home to the provincial capital, Mahikeng.

Ndamase said water throttling began after a presentation made in late November to the SA Local Government Association, National Treasury and the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs at Parliament’s portfolio committee on water and sanitation.

There were 30 municipalities around the country where water was going to be cut, but most contacted the department and made arrangements to pay their debts.

However, five have not made similar arrangements with the department of water and sanitation.

Ndamase said that, in the past few weeks, officials from the department and water boards had held meetings with defaulting municipalities to finalise payment agreements.

By December 13, defaulting municipalities had coughed up R213m to the water boards and R55.5m to the Water Trading Entity. Municipalities also committed to make further payments amounting to R300m.

Others, however, raised disputes about the amounts they owed and a dispute resolution process was under way.

Ndamase said an analysis of the top 30 defaulters conducted by the department highlighted systemic problems that required interventions from the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs, as well as the provinces.

The problems included poor infrastructure maintenance, an inability to deal with water wastage and municipalities battling to get their users to pay their bills.

About a quarter of the top 30 defaulting municipalities wasted more than half of the water used and couldn’t say where it had gone to.

“This means these municipalities are losing more than half of the water supplied through their systems. A further 26% have been unable to track and provide data on water losses,” Ndamase said.

The Treasury portal – Municipal Money – reported that Madibeng has 475 796 residents and has a poor financial management record, including a disclaimer audit opinion in 2016/17 and qualified opinions for the three previous years.

By the end of June last year, it had a negative cash balance of almost R30m, and its fruitless and wasteful expenditure amounted to 65.09%. Only 69.83% of its bills were paid.

Madibeng spokesperson Tumelo Tshabalala said the municipality acknowledged the debt and was “committed” to settling it.

The municipality had imposed water restrictions on consumers because of problems with its water supply. It was also expanding the Brits Water Treatment Plan to increase its production capacity from 60 megalitres of water a day to 80 megalitres.

“We are confident that, upon completion of the project, water supply challenges at areas supplied from this scheme would be addressed,” he said.

Mpumalanga’s Msukaligwa Municipality has 149 378 residents. It’s financial accounting record had improved in 2016/17 to a qualified audit opinion last year following three years of disclaimers.

Nevertheless, irregular expenditure accounted for 41.3% of its budget.

Msukaligwa spokesperson Mandla Zwane said they were behind on their water payments mainly because their residents did not pay their bills. He said that, by the end of September, consumers owed a staggering R443m for electricity, water, property rates and refuse removal.

In February, the department of water and sanitation served a summons on the municipality, suing it for more than R184m for bulk water, Zwane said. At the time, the council resolved to defend the matter, which is now in court, he said.

However, Zwane said no water restrictions had been imposed.

“At the moment, the municipality is waiting for the schedule of rationing from the department, which would help the municipality to develop its own schedule should the department take a final decision to continue with the rationing,” he said.

City Press sent questions to the other defaulting municipalities, but did not receive responses.

Read more on:    eskom  |  brian molefe  |  drought  |  water crisis

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