KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Sipho Hlomuka has announced harsher consequences for residents, businesses and government institutions who owe billions of rands to the province’s municipalities.

Hlomuka announced this at the launch of the Masakhane, Let’s Rise and Build Campaign in the Ugu District.

Under this programme, a number of measures are being implemented as part of the push by the provincial government to tackle the R20.1 billion debt owed to municipalities.

Part of the interventions announced by Hlomuka include:

  • A grace period for those that come forward who have defaulted on their municipal services payments or have illegal water and electricity connections
  • Municipalities to incentivise those that are paying for municipal services
  • Municipalities to aggressively register indigent residents under the Indigent Policy
  • Taking to court defaulters who refuse to settle their municipal bills. This also includes the possibility of attaching properties so that municipalities can recoup monies owed. This is catered for in the Municipal Systems Act, Municipal Finance Management Act and By-Laws of municipalities.

“Currently the province’s municipalities are owed R20.1-billion in total by various consumers. Out of this total, domestic consumers account for R14-billion, which is 70% of the total debt. It is for this reason that we have unveiled this programme whereby we will be embarking on an awareness drive calling on consumers who owe their municipalities to come forward and make the necessary arrangements to pay up,” said Hlomuka.

KZN Cogta is also working with municipalities to update their indigent policies so that residents who qualify can take advantage of this policy that is aimed at households that cannot afford to pay their municipal rates and service charges.

Earlier in the morning, Hlomuka met with the local ratepayers’ associations, businesses and NGOs working in the Ugu district where consumer debt is currently sitting at R600-million. In his engagement with these stakeholders, Hlomuka, together with the Ugu district Mayor Cllr Ngcobo and the Ray Nkonyeni Mayor Cllr Mqwebu, set timelines to address concerns raised by businesses which are hampering their ability to invest in this tourism hub.

Hlomuka will also visit other municipalities to engage with local stakeholders in order to troubleshoot some of the challenges faced by municipalities in their efforts to enhance revenue.