KwaZulu-Natal municipalities are experiencing a sharp decline in revenue due to the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown. The lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus has resulted in job losses, salary cuts for many workers, while businesses were hard hit when they were forced to close.

Many ratepayers, including households and businesses, are unable to pay their municipal rates and utility bills due to the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown. Municipalities say a decline in revenue collection will compromise service delivery.

EThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda says the municipality has recorded a decline in revenue collection since the start of the lockdown.

“Many people have received so much of strain during the lockdown and the COVID-19 and therefore they have been unable to pay for their services. To those, we have also made arrangement for own incentive that we have offered which will enable them to at least not to get interest on their bills and make arrangements to pay but that will be based on individual and merit of each and every case that there is evidence that you have lost income,” says Kaunda.

Cooperative Governance MEC, Sipho Hlomuka, paints a grim picture of the state of municipal finances since the outbreak of the coronavirus. He has called on ratepayers who are facing financial difficulties to make payment arrangements with their municipalities.

“We really want to appeal to the people of KZN that can they try to pay for the services that they are getting from municipalities, because the municipalities will collapse. Those who are working and those who have challenges must consult their municipalities and make arrangements for how are they going to pay. Those who have challenges because of the COVID 19 they must make arrangements because local government must continue to provide services to our people,” says Hlomuka.

Meanwhile, Hlomuka says rural municipalities have been the hardest hit by non-payment of rates.