Corporative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Pravin Gordhan has called on citizens to pay for basic services that they receive from municipalities.
The Minister said nobody was above the law and that for municipalities to remain sustainable, all residents must pay their equitable share for receiving electricity or other services like water.
The Minister said this following a threat by the National Treasury to withhold the equitable share allocations to municipalities that owe Eskom and the National Water Board millions to billions of rands.
“We need to widen the payment culture in South Africa. We cannot have a situation where part of our communities are saying they are going to receive a public service they are going to consume public goods but they are not going to pay for either or all of it.
“We believe all South Africans must pay their fair share in relation to the service that they consume,” he said.
The Minister’s statement comes as residents, like those from Soweto, have reportedly refused to pay for the electricity that they receive.
The Minister said this was unacceptable.
As a result of residents defaulting on their payments or not paying for their services completely, municipalities in turn owe Eskom billions of rands.
Some 59 municipalities have been identified by the National Treasury as those that were under threat from having their equitable share withheld.
Parliament’s Select Committee on Appropriations has expressed its concern over the threat from National Treasury.
Minister Gordhan said all parties – his department, municipalities and Eskom would sit around one table to discuss solutions and map out a way forward.
“The equitable share is currently being released.
“If we don’t get cooperation from citizens and the municipalities themselves, we won’t find ourselves in a sustainable situation.
“The important fact though is that municipalities should not be scape goats. Not all of Eskom’s problems are from municipalities… ”
The Minister said, meanwhile, that there was also a disturbing practice within municipal officials not paying for their services.
“We equally recognise that there has been some manipulations of indigent lists, meaning where indigent individuals are entitled to services in terms of government services, we find civil servants, business people, and politicians entering their names on the indigent lists which means that they then become exempt from payments of what they should be paying for.
“That kind of irresponsibility surely must be unacceptable,” he said.
Department to strengthen the monitoring of service delivery
Six months ago, President Jacob Zuma launched ‘Back to Basics’, a strategy where the Corporative Governance Department would focus on a number of issues – including listening to residents to get feedback on service delivery, getting refuse collected and potholes filled and including governance and financial management.
The Minister said as part of the strategy, municipalities now reported to his department on a bi-monthly basis on whether they were meeting their key performance indicators as per their delivery targets.
He said the reports are then being checked against physical inspections at municipalities to check whether potholes, for example, were repaired, against what is said in the reports.
The use of technology, where residents were asked to send in evidence of whether services were delivered using their mobile phones or other devices was also being implemented, the Minister said.
He said municipalities that were in a bad position as far as service delivery was concerned have started moving towards the category of those that were improving or better off ever since the strategy was implemented.
Source : SAnews.gov.za