Msukaligwa Municipality negotiating with Department of Water and Sanitation to pay off outstanding water debt

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) served the Msukaligwa Municipality with a summons early this year on 9 February.

The department, at the time, was suing them for an outstanding amount of R184 124 516.50 regarding the supply of bulk water.

However, The Minister of Water and Sanitation, Ms Nomvula Mokonyane issued a report on 22 November stating the government has threatened as a “last resort” to cut water supply to at least 30 municipalities by 8 December.

The department said it was implementing a section of the National Water Act that allowed it to restrict or suspend the water flow to defaulting municipalities which included Msukaligwa.

After the summons, the Msukaligwa council met and resolved to defend the matter.

In the recent report, the department said the municipality owed R384 958 301, three times the figure mentioned early in the year.

Also read : Msukaligwa municipality issues festive season opening times

Enquiries to the department and the municipality over the amount went unanswered at the time of going to press.

When the Highvelder enquired about the debt, the municipality responded by saying engagements are currently underway between the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Department of Water and Sanitation and various municipalities, including Msukaligwa.

According to municipal spokesman, Mr Mandla Zwane, indications are the department may provisionally not proceed with the suspension or restriction of water supply, pending the finalisation of the engagements.

The Gert Sibande District Municipality (GSDM) has also confirmed that talks are underway.

GSDM assured residents of the Lekwa Municipality, Standerton and surrounding areas last week that water will be supplied consistently without interruptions.

Lekwa has finalised payments plans with the department to avert interruptions, however Msukaligwa has not followed suit.

The payment plan followed a meeting between representatives from Lekwa and GSDM, led by the district’s Municipal Manager, Mr Absenia Habile and the department, led by the provincial acting head, Mr Masala Mulaudzi.

“Residents can be assured that the challenge in Lekwa has been resolved.

“We urge them to play their part by keeping up to date with their services accounts,” Mr Habile said.

Council hopes to resolve Msukaligwa’s debt in a similar fashion.

Mr Habile also said collection of payment rates leaves most municipalities with inadequate revenue and loss of water in the system also contributes to revenue loss.

He appealed to residents to prevent water losses.

“We encourage residents to save water by fixing water leakages in the system.

“Water losses should be a concern for all and will contribute to water scarcity.

”We all have a role to play in water conservation,” Mr Habile warned.

Amanda Mthembu

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