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Provincial government departments and Ithala Development Bank owe the eThekwini Municipality almost R1 billion in rates and services

DA leader Francois Rogers wants finance MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube to ensure that departments pay municipalities for rates and services on time.

DA leader Francois Rogers wants finance MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube to ensure that departments pay municipalities for rates and services on time.

Published Jan 25, 2022

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DURBAN - THE DA has called on Finance MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube to intervene and ensure that government departments and entities pay the municipalities their money for rates and services on time.

The DA provincial leader, Francois Rogers, issued a statement following the revelation that provincial government departments and Ithala Development Bank owed eThekwini Municipality almost R1 billion in rates and services.

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He has said the party will engage with Finance MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube and the provincial Treasury to ensure departmental compliance. He has also said the DA will write to provincial Scopa (standing committee on public accounts) chairperson Maggie Govender, to request that the committee investigate the non or late payment of rates and services by Ithala, which has led to the disconnection of services to commercial and industrial properties being leased.

“Provincial departments are obliged to settle all accounts within 30 days. We will write to Scopa chairperson Maggie Govender to request that her committee investigate the non or late payment. So once the above information has been ascertained, the DA will engage with Dube-Ncube to ensure that departments are complying,” Rogers said.

He said the party would also submit written parliamentary questions to all other provincial departments requesting a breakdown of money owed to the city.

The DA has listed the Education Department as the biggest transgressor with more than R330 million outstanding, saying it is followed by Public Works with R164m.

The party says other major contributors to the staggering debt are the province’s departments of Health and Human Settlements. Rogers also lashed out at Ithala, saying the entity owed R6m, adding that this outstanding debt is for commercial properties owned by the bank, which are leased out to commercial and industrial tenants.

“It has now come to light that the city is disconnecting services to these Ithala-owned properties, literally leaving tenants in the dark. These are the very same tenants who pay rent to Ithala and who are ultimately assisting in building the provincial economy and creating jobs.

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“This is the very same Ithala that the ANC continues to push to become the first state-owned bank. Clearly, as with the vast majority of other state-owned entities, Ithala is just another failed project and nothing more than a bottomless money pit.”

Education spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said the DA has said nothing new because the department was aware and was in talks with the eThekwini Municipality.

There has been a debate on whether schools should be billed on domestic or commercial rates for municipal rates and services.

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This was after the teacher unions revealed in 2019 that three schools under eThekwini Municipality owed the city R10m combined. The schools’ argument was that they should pay domestic rates since they were non-profit entities.

Spokesperson for Finance MEC Nathi Olifant said it was not their responsibility but a co-operative governance and traditional affairs duty.

Public works MEC Jomo Sibiya said the matter came to his attention last week and he had already assigned acting head of the department Siboniso Majola to champion the implementation turnaround strategy around rate payments.

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Sibiya has said that his department was responsible for payment of rates and services for all government departments, adding that the delay in payment was caused by the municipalities which were bringing invoices late.

“I urged municipalities to send us invoices in July so that we are able to reconcile them and process payments on time …”

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