GOVERNMENT departments continue to be the major defaulters in terms of the uMhlathuze Municipality’s debtors.
Business and state entities came under fire at a recent executive council meeting, when the municipality’s debt collection rate came into question.
Officials told the council they were struggling to cut off services at certain communities within the city because they were being chased away.
They urged councillors to educate residents of their respective wards on the importance of paying for their services – saying that residents had 25 days to visit the municipality and work out a payment agreement before their services would be disconnected.
However, it was quickly pointed out that debt incurred from the households, which accounted for 44 percent, was lower than that of government and businesses which for years have been owing millions to the municipality.
Councillors said it was unfair that businesses continued to make money while they still owed the municipality money for services.
Municipal officials were told to pursue the debt despite legal threats against them by some businesses.
‘We cannot allow them to get away just because they have good lawyers,’ said one of the councillors.
The city’s CFO Mxolisi Kunene told council that proactive measures are being taken to encourage debt recovery.
‘With regards to government debt, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) and provincial treasury put a committee together which will prioritise collecting money from the government departments that still owe to municipalities.
‘Most businesses are paying but they are doing so slowly,’ he said.
Despite the difficulties, uMhlathuze remains one of the best performers in the country, with a 96 percent debt collection rate.