The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has given the Amathole District Municipality in the Eastern Cape seven days to retract the notice of non-payment that has been issued to employees.

The call comes after the district municipality announced that it would be unable to pay the salaries of its employees, councillors and traditional leaders for the months of February, April, May and June.

One thousand six hundred forty-one municipal workers and 56 councillors and traditional leaders serving in the council will be affected.

The EFF says if the municipality does not retract the notice and pay workers they will embark on a picket or mass protest.

The cash-strapped Amathole District Municipality in the Eastern Cape says it needs urgent government financial assistance.

Municipal Manager Thandekile Mnyimba says the Amathole District’s salary bill is not affordable because it is higher than its budget.

“The elephant in the room for Amathole for the financial sustainability of the institution is the cost of employment and this is what we have been communicating for the past three years. We need to address the cost of employment, hence we then said let’s then invest in the mutual separation agreement so that going forward the municipality is financially sustainable. In its current form, ADM is not financially sustainable and will not be financially sustainable until these decisions are taken.”

Strike affected service delivery

The strike by South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) members in Amathole District Municipality had dire effects on the delivery of basic services.

Workers affiliated to the union were striking over salary benefits. They were also demanding the immediate resignation of Mnyimba.

The cash-strapped municipality maintained that it is struggling financially to meet the demands of workers. Houses in my area, Ethembeni, have no water. I need water to drink, for washing there is no water,” says Menzeni.

Samwu Shop Steward at Amathole District Municipality, Lorna Lubedu, accused municipal management of dragging the process of addressing their needs.

“If really Amathole didn’t have money, your councillor wouldn’t have their upper limits but they did. Only the hardworking employees didn’t get their increment. If really they did not have funds, the municipal manager and his directors were not going to apply for their performance bonuses, but they did that,” says Lubedu.

Additional reporting by Yanga Funani.

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