DA action forces municipality to keep the lights on

Following a picket by the DA last week outside the Merafong municipal building the embattled ANC-led Merafong municipality has made a hasty payment to Eskom to avoid load shedding.

This followed the municipality’s failure to honour its arrears payments arrangements for the R129.5 million that it owed the power utility.

However, Merafong is nowhere near to turning their financial woes around.

During a council sitting last week the Merafong Council was asked to condone irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure amounting to more than R11 million and R16 million respectively.

This wasteful expenditure was in respect of interest on arrears accounts like Eskom, Rand Water, Telkom and many more. Furthermore, deviations from the Supply Chain Management Services amounting to R1.8 million had to be condoned because provisions of the Supply Chain policy of Council had not been followed.

Deviations are a recurring problem dating as far back as 2012. In forensic audit reports in the DA’s possession damning findings have been made against municipal staff members, yet no action has been taken.

It is unsurprising that the West Rand District Municipality (WRDM), which is also in very serious financial trouble, is pushing for the establishment of a Metro Council which will be made up of all the local municipalities in the West Rand.

In moving towards this goal the Merafong Council adopted a shared services agreement with the WRDM which includes the provision of bulk services in terms of Section 84 (1) of the Municipal Structures Act despite there being no public participation on the matter.

It appears the ANC is trying to force the formation of a metro by stealth, again leaving the people behind in favour of their political party agenda.

The DA opposed all the above items in Council and demanded that our opposition be recorded in the minutes of the meeting.

We will continue our campaign to fight for the people of Merafong and to compel Gauteng Cooperative Governance MEC Paul Mashatile to intervene and use the Constitution to bring about a financial recovery plan for the Municipality.

We will table a motion in Council that a ring-fenced account be created for the payment of utilities so that the people’s money meant to pay for water and electricity reaches Eskom and Rand Water. We will seek an urgent meeting with MEC Mashatile to lay out the way forward.