Gauteng Premier David Makhura says despite efforts by Emfuleni Mayor Jacob Khawe the financial challenges facing the municipality continue to deteriorate. He says as the provincial government they have instituted a comprehensive intervention plan to ensure the financial viability of the municipality and to help it deliver services to communities.
Makhura says they will also engage Rand Water and Eskom to agree to a debt repayment plan to ensure no disruption to the supply of water and electricity to residents.
Makhura on Monday officially announced that Emfuleni has been put under administration. This means the Gauteng government will now run the affairs of the municipality.
Emfuleni is facing a financial crisis and owes Rand Water and Eskom millions for bulk services.
Last week Emfuleni Mayor Jacob Khawe told SABC News that putting his municipality under administration would not resolve its current financial and service delivery woes.
He was expected to address the media with Makhura on Monday but he did not make it. Makhura says they had to intervene in Emfuleni to ensure service delivery is not interrupted further.
“What started as a financial problem has now become a problem of service delivery and this is a serious situation that warrants more comprehensive intervention. Section 139 of the Constitution gives the PEC the authority to intervene when a municipality cannot and does not fulfil its executive obligations.”
Makhura says part of the intervention plan is to enhance revenue collection.
He says they will also go after businesses who do not pay for services. “We know that there are many businesses that are receiving services in Emfuleni that are not paying for services. We also know that the communities there because of the scale of unemployment and poverty the levels of payment the mayor was saying it is just above 60 per cent. There is no municipality that can survive without collecting revenue for services that people are consuming. I want to emphasise especially big business, businesses in the area they need to pay for services.”
He says dissolving the municipality was a last resort on the intervention plan. “What we didn’t consider is the dissolution of the municipality. You can’t use what’s called dissolution of a municipality arbitrarily. You can’t just arbitrarily dissolve a municipality. That is why I’m emphasising, arbitrarily, you can only go that, firstly the municipality fails to pass a budget or if the municipality decides to really not want to work with you as empowered by the constitution. And in this particular case Emfuleni municipality is very keen to work with us. “
Makhura says he will convene monthly meetings with the Mayor, the MEC’s and the Mayoral Committee Members to review progress. Attempts to get comment from Mayor Jacob Khawe have not been successful.