The Eastern Cape Provincial Government has approached national government for funds to bailout 14 unsustainable, bankrupt Eastern Cape municipalities.
MEC of COGTA, Xolile Nqatha, also said that provincial government was considering amalgamating these failing municipalities with more successful institutions.
This mean that a financially sustainable and well managed municipality like Kouga could be amalgamated with a neighbouring municipality and become responsible for its failing infrastructure and debt.
This is exactly what happened in 2016, when municipalities in distress were amalgamated with successful municipalities, reducing the provinces municipalities from 45 to 39.
All the amalgamated municipalities from 2016 are on the new list of the 14 failing municipalities that MEC Nqatha now wants to bail out.
Instead of improving service delivery, the failing municipalities that were amalgamated have dragged down the successful institutions they were merged with.
It is also extremely concerning that the province has only now decided to step in when municipalities are on the verge of total collapse and are unable to pay staff salaries and wages, such as in the Enoch Mgijima Municipality who have been unable to pay staff this month.
The Amahlati Municipality (Stutterheim) has been unable to pay staff for four months!
“”The DA has been calling for intervention in these municipalities for several years. In November the DA revealed that combined debt to ESKOM was over R 1.1 Billion and growing.
This is a clear indication of how these municipalities have been mismanaged,”said Vicky Knoetze, the DA Member of the Provincial Legislature and Shadow MEC for COGTA.
Amalgamation is not the answer and will only amount to more suffering, and a complete failure in providing services to the people of the Eastern Cape.
The Democratic Alliance believes that these municipalities must be either dissolved in in terms of section 139(1)( c) of the Constitution and new elections must be held, or the municipalities that are not already under administration must be placed under administration in terms of section 139 (1)(b) up until the Local Government elections next year.
Forensic audits must be conducted in each of these municipalities and those accountable must be charged and concrete turnaround plans must be drawn up and implemented”,”added Knoetze.