The Guard

The Truth On Board

MAP woes mount

By Libuseng Nyaka

QWAQWA – The announcement by the cash-strapped Maluti-a-Phofung that it is unable to pay staff and councillors in November, 2022 has been met with mixed feelings.
The financial crisis is mounting, with the municipality assets have been attached last week and the whole Qwaqwa area having experience a total electricity shut down for up to a week.

In a statement released on November 21, 20022 by acting municipal manager Sam Makhubu, staff and councillors are notified that their payments would not be paid on November 23,2022. The announcement came after the entire area of QwaQwa was without electricity for the whole week which was coupled with the attachment of its assets by Sherriff due to none payment to the service providers.

“The municipality finds itself in a difficult cash flow crisis due to non-payment of the services and continued vandalism of electricity infrastructure. We are therefore unable to pay employees and councillors on the 23rd November 2022. Employees will be paid according to their level categories, starting from level 15 upwards. We apologies for the inconvenience.”
But this did not sit well with different political parties including those in collision with the ruling Map16.

Democratic Alliance (DA) caucus leader who serves on the newly established finance committee in Map, Alison Oates has attributed failure of the committee to do its mandate to failure of municipal departments to furnish them with reports timeously.

“A financial recovery committee was established with representatives from each political party. Initially we could not hold meeting because no quorum could be established. I decided we would proceed without a quorum, but still despite promises, no timeous reports from municipal departments were forthcoming.”
Oats said another contributing factor is that budget relied heavily on the income from water fixed rate payments, yet there is no infrastructure in place to collect this.
“Budget relied on mass increase in collection of revenue which has not been the case. We have millions of unblocked money from Bloem Water and we do not know why it has not been unblocked and other money for Eskom.”

Oats blamed the municipality for purchasing an expensive car exceeding the threshold for mayoral vehicles.

“The mayor of Maluti-a-Phofung was entitled by law to purchase a vehicle for up to R700 000 in November. For unclear reasons it was decided that the mayor should have a new BMW X5 which costs much more than R700 000.”
The chief whip of the council who is also member of Map16 led coalition government, Moeketsi Lebesa has rejected municipal decision not to pay employees and councillors.

“We will not accept it because of the following reasons: while we are aware that our municipality has finances challenges, the way funds had been poorly handled and spent from October 20-31, 2022, in those 10 days this municipality has paid many contractors monies ranging from R17-million to R20-million that we are not aware of. Some of the contractors are rumoured to have been irregularly appointed. Eighty million has been spent from the municipality’s account. There is more money which has already been paid from November 1 to date.”
Lebesa said situation at the municipality is deteriorating.

“The situation of Maluti-a-Phofung is worse than ever before. For the first time since QwaQwa was established in 1886 the area had a total power shut down for a week. This is proof that the situation is declining further.”
But the spokesperson of Map-16, Mmutlanyana Sekete refuted claims that the municipality was collapsing and is in a worse state than before.
He highlighted the successes and achievements attained since Map-16 took over.

“The attachment of assets has nothing to do with the current government. We are still suffering from the mess made by the ANC government. From October we have managed to establish a financial disciplinary board – which is a compliance matter – so that those who have mismanaged municipal funds can be arrested. During the ANC’s tenure there was no such board. They must tell us where the R220 million is which was meant for supply of water to the residents. It has gone to individuals’ pockets. Funds used to disappear without being accounted for.”