Merafong ANC Council hiding extent of water debt

The ANC-led Merafong Council has failed to disclose to the municipality’s Section 80 Finance Committee that it has until 8 December 2017 to pay the Water Board R10 million or residents will face lower water pressure and possible cuts.

The municipality currently owes Rand Water R60 million.

The National Department of Water and Sanitation (DoWS) last week announced that municipalities in arrears would start to have their pressure reduced, and should the non-payment of overdue debt continue, water cuts will follow.

Neighbouring Emfuleni has already had its water flow reduced to 40%.

It is concerning that this is not the only debt the municipality has. It also owes power utility Eskom R77 million.

The DoWS has already indicated that it will be lobbying National Treasury to take what it is owed directly from Merafong’s equitable share grant.

This poses a serious challenge to service delivery as this money should be used for the day to day running of the municipality, as well as paying for indigent grants to the poorest of the poor.

Through negligent financial planning, and a failure to attend to the numerous water leaks plaguing the municipality, the ANC in Merafong has allowed debt to spiral out of control – threatening the livelihoods of residents.

Gauteng MEC for Finance, Barbara Creecy and MEC for Cooperative Governance, Paul Mashatile instituted an eight-point plan to reverse the situation in Merafong, but this has amounted to nothing but a wish list on a piece of paper.

It is now time that these two MECs work together to place this ailing municipality under administration in terms of Section 139 of the Constitution so as to stabilise its finances and to improve the conditions of the residents who call Merafong home.