The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Msunduzi is gravely concerned about the municipality’s financial crisis. This follows the EXCO special meeting held on Monday to address the electricity crisis in the municipality. The meeting which resolved that R80 million be made available for the refurbishment of some of the substations was proof that the municipality had indeed made an unrealistic budget for the financial year 2020/21.
The meeting was an indirect admission from the municipal manager, Madoda Khathide, that the budget was not credible.
In the same meeting the Msunduzi Troika (Mayor, Deputy Mayor and the Speaker of the Council) made these two proposals for the overall electricity crisis:
- The municipality should surrender its constitutional mandate of providing electricity within the jurisdiction of Msunduzi by handing over to Eskom its infrastructure, and powers to distribute, bill and collect any revenue that is concerning electricity.
- The municipality should allow Eskom to take full responsibility of planning, designing, funding any electricity infrastructure that require upgrades and hand it over as built to the municipality with specific payment arrangement to be negotiated.
Adopting these proposals would mean a total collapse of the municipality as over 50% of the municipality’s revenue comes from electricity. Most departments are dependent on electricity not only to function but for revenue as well.
According to the National Treasury Guidelines MFMA Circular 71, a municipality is supposed to allocate nothing less than 8% of its budget to the repair and maintenance of infrastructure. Msunduzi has over the years ignored that directive which has now come back to haunt the municipality.
Msunduzi has instead over the years allocated the below percentages for the maintenance and repair of infrastructure:
- 2016/17 – 1, 36 %
- 2017/18 – 2, 14 %
- 2018/19 – 1, 88 %
- 2019/20 – 0, 67 %
- 2020/21 – 0, 01 %
Almost all the problems in which the municipality is now coughing up millions for in our substations are due to infrastructure maintenance and repair. Had they allocated the right amount the municipality would not be having all these challenges.
On top of this, the municipality has R100 million worth of electrical equipment in storage which cannot be installed due to funding.
As the DA these have been our proposals to try and salvage the municipality:
- Clampdown on illegal connections which is a huge contributor to the municipality’s collapse.
- The municipality needs to register indigent customers, as when the National Treasury allocates the equitable share it does not account for those that are not registered. (Only 5100 registered out of 35 000)
- Ensure that all departments in the municipality can sustain themselves instead of relying on the electricity department
- Cutting on irregular expenditure for Councillors and senior officials security.
- Ensure that Msunduzi generate revenue on Council By-laws trans graters [fines, penalties, and forfeits].
While the municipality has ignored our calls and proposals, businesses have threatened to leave the unstable municipality. This could cause dreadful implications for the local economy of the province’s capital city.
Residents have also had to endure days-on-end without electricity.
It is for this reason that we are reiterating our call for the municipality to be dissolved. Msunduzi can be salvaged and the ANC has time and again proven that they are not capable of turning things around.
Proven where we govern, only the DA is capable of salvaging this municipality. The upcoming 2021 Local Government Elections are an opportunity for residents of Msunduzi to finally get the reliable service delivery that they deserve.