Hundreds of workers from a number of Free State municipalities are on the brink of not receiving their monthly salaries. Several of the municipalities are in dire financial distress. Some might be forced to use medical and pension funds to cover operational costs.

The one thing they all have in common is the billions of rand they owe Eskom.

The municipalities are on the brink of collapse. Despite national government’s turnaround strategy to among others employs skilled technicians and engineers.

Municipalities including Letsemeng, Tokologo, Matjhabeng, Nketoana have a revenue collection challenge and are struggling to pay workers’ salaries. The Mangaung metro faces a water debt of about R100 million.

The provincial treasury has painted a grim picture indicating that eight municipalities reported overdrafts and have a balance of below R10 000.  It says this is not sustainable and would lead to non-payment of salaries and creditors including Eskom and water boards.

Local government department admits the challenges, Free State local government HOD Mokete Duma says managers will look into the problems.

“Most issues raised relate to lack of commitment by leadership of municipalities both politically and administratively so we call on managers to come and sit down with them to say these are the issues.”

Political analyst, Dr. Sethulego Matebesi says water provision is a major issue.

“If you look at where all service delivery protest emanate, from informal settlements because one thing there is lack of water provision.”

Meanwhile, communities say they feel left out by government. During his report on municipalities, the Auditor General said accountability for financial and performance management continues to worsen in most municipalities.