South African municipalities owe water boards R2 Billion

BY TAI CHISHAKWE - SEPTEMBER 23, 2014

In a written response to a Parliamentary question, Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Pravin Gordhan revealed that reports sent to the National Treasury showed that South Africa’s municipalities owe various water boards around R2 billion.

Eastern Cape municipalities owed around R42 million in overdue accounts – and they are not the worst.

Municipalities in the Free State were the worst offenders owing their water board a combined R971 million; followed by those in Mpumalanga which owed a total of R357 million; Limpopo at R323 million; and those in the North West which collectively owe R254 million.

The Northern Cape owes some R76 million; KZN R9.4 million while the Western Cape owed its water board a comparatively meager R372 000.

In a statement, Cogta said that it was working with the provinces and the Department of Water and Sanitation to support the water boards in the collection of the monies.

“The various provinces facilitate agreements on payment plans from all municipalities with arrear accounts. These plans are approved by municipal councils, which are held accountable to honour them.

“Payment plans are implemented within a period agreed [with] the water board and the municipality – which is usually 12 months,” the department said.

It said it would also work with provincial treasuries to engage with municipalities that had arrears on their accounts.

“In addition, municipalities are advised to review their operations, budgeting and tariffs to ensure sustainable solutions, including the preparation of financial recovery plans where required,’ the department said.