Rates revolt: More communities are ditching municipal bills and doing things themselves

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Ian Carbutt

The increasing non-payment of municipal debt by households and businesses has nothing to do with the so-called "culture of non-payment" in South Africa. According to The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA), civil society is fed up with not being treated like clients by SA's municipalities. Most of the time, their service makes people feel like they are merely a nuisance to municipal employees, they say.

So, people are starting to organise as groups to take the provision of municipal services into their own hands, and they are asking themselves why they should continue paying for services they haven't received - sometimes for years.

"We've seen various people starting to avoid rates. We've had calls from various communities throughout South Africa saying, let's do a rates boycott; let's stop paying. And this is dangerous," said OUTA's executive manager for the social innovation division, Julius Kleynhans.

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