A ballooning salary bill that has grown to R 170 million per year is threatening to collapse the local authority that runs the towns of Jeffreys Bay, St Francis Bay and others in the region.

In 2001, our Municipality won an award for being the best run local authority in the Eastern Cape. We are now sitting in a situation where Eskom is threatening to cut off our power unless R 12 million is paid immediately. It was revealed at a meeting of the Jeffreys Bay Rate Payers Association last night that there is a total of R 27 million owed to Eskom at present.

The waves will still attract surfers to Jeffreys Bay. Is tourism being recognised by the authorities as being the life blood of the town?

The burgeoning salary bill that has seen the number of municipal officials literally double in the past decade is even of concern to our Municipal Manager, Dr Eddie Rankwana. “Although the process is being conducted scientifically at present to find out how many surplus officials we have, my personal feeling is that we are 50 % overstaffed”, said Rankwana at the Rate Payers meeting.

What he failed to address however, was that most of these appointments occurred under his watch. Telling residents that he is just as concerned as they are about the cash flow problem facing the Municipality did not inspire a lot of confidence in the ability of the current council and administration to sort out the mess.

Instead it seems that the recent Wikileaks revelations where a senior member of the ANC admitted that cadres are just interested in jobs and personal enrichment have affected our municipality as well.

What is of great concern is that the maintenance budget of the Municipality has been cut to fund the ever increasing gravy train and about R 40 million has been reallocated to salaries.

Residents need to use the upcoming local election to display their displeasure with the way our town is being run. A rates boycott is a complex issue and will take will power and a lot of effort to be successful. Voting out the ruling party at the ballot box makes much more sense. Ensure you are registered to vote by visiting the Election website and typing in your ID number. It’s the right thing to do.

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