Sol Plaatje Municipality launches debt relief programme

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The Sol Plaatje Municipality in the Northern Cape is grappling with a substantial debt of R3.7 billion in rates and taxes, with R2.2 billion owed by households.

In response to this financial challenge, the municipality has implemented a debt relief programme as part of its efforts to recover outstanding amounts by ratepayers in Kimberley and Ritchie. The programme, set to conclude at the end of February 2024, offers residents a 50 per cent discount when settling their bills in full.

The municipality is owed over R600 million by businesses and R700 million by government departments. One household in Kimberley owes over R200 000.

Acting Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at the municipality, Kenneth Samolapo emphasised that non-payment remains a significant challenge.

Samolapo stated, “Out of R2.2 billion owed by residential households, R2 billion goes to residential households, and is like the money that has been owed for more than ninety days. Out of R645 million owed by commercial businesses, R525 million is older than 90 days. So that creates a bit of a challenge for the municipality because then we end up being cash strapped.”

Concerns over debt relief to municipalities:

Mixed feelings

Some residents of the Galeshewe township in Kimberley have mixed feelings about the debt relief programme.

Resident Mmapula Molusi says, “These rates and taxes are killing us but there is nothing we can do because if we don’t pay our electricity will be cut off. We don’t pay because we afford it, but we pay because we use these services.”

Others highlight ongoing issues with water supply, emphasising the need for a more comprehensive approach to addressing residents’ concerns.

Resident Boitumelo Mbayat says, “In our province water supply is a problem, everyday water is getting cut. I don’t feel like we are being met halfway. We are expected to pay but we are not met halfway.”

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Story by: Tebogo Msimanga