September 25, 2017

News:

Relief for residents as council cancels debts

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Meeting residents halfway... Vusi Tshabalala

Meeting residents halfway… Vusi Tshabalala

Residents of Maluti-a-Phofung Local Municipality who owe council for rates and services heaved a sigh of relief after executive mayor Vusi Tshabalala’s announcement on Tuesday to write off their debts as of August 1, 2017.

The residents owe the council about R602 million for various services.

Tshabalala made this announcement which was received with applause when he tabled the municipality’s R1.5 billion budget for the 2017/2018 financial year. He however, emphasised that the cancellation applies to households only, not businesses.

He noted the municipality had discovered that its books have carried along old information regarding residents’ debts and as a result figures fail to tally during auditing, adding: “We have decided to cancel all the debts and start our books afresh.”

Tshabalala advised residents to appreciate efforts made by the municipality of meeting them halfway by ensuring that they adhere to their monthly payments and not to accumulate debts.

“We urge you to refrain from stealing electricity through illegal connections. Instead, you must regularise your connections and use the electricity that you have paid for,” he stressed.

The municipality owes Eskom more than R1.7 billion.

Tshabalala added that the municipality has a duty to provide free basic services to its residents who cannot afford as listed in the Indigent Register.

“We will continue to provide free basic services as follows: for water there will be free six kilolitres and 50 kilowatts of free electricity every month.

Identifying qualifying residents is prudent to a healthy and realistic indigent register, which focuses on households lacking the necessities of life for individuals to survive. These are households earning a monthly gross income of less than R3 500,” he explained.

A resident of Bluegumbosch, Malefu Radebe, 45, , who owed the municipality R35 000 said the move will encourage them to start paying.

“Our massive debts were discouraging us from paying.”

Letuka Mokoena from Phuthaditjhaba who owes the municipality R32 000 commended the mayor for his leniency and promised to make sure he does not accumulate debts again.

“Our houses were losing value because of debt and it was not easy selling them because we would not make any significant gains because of the huge amounts we owe the municipality,” the 57 year-old said.

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