R1.2bn cash boost from Bhisho for struggling councils

Bhisho has set aside R1.2-billion to help struggling municipalities boost service delivery.Recipients include Joe Gqabi in Aliwal North, King Sabata Dalindyebo in Mthatha, Ntabankulu and Mbashe local municipalities.

Treasury MEC Sakhumzi Somyo said the funds were meant to ensure municipalities delivered quality services and did not rely on the government for bailouts.

R600-million of the amount was set aside to upgrade and resurface the Mbhashe local municipality road around Dutywa.

  • The breakdown of the budget shows that:lKing Sabata Dalindyebo received R70-million for the R61 bypass to ease congestion in Mthatha central business district.

An additional R60-million was set aside for electrification of health facilities as part of the National Health Insurance scheme project;

  • Joe Gqabi municipality in Aliwal North received R130-million for drought relief.

The amount includes R80-million for the financial year which ended in March, as well as R50-million for the current financial year.

The breakdown reveals that the areas of focus in this rescue programme in this district are Maletswai and Gariep municipalities.

Treasury spokeswoman Nosisa Sogayise said the projects and interventions had produced economic spin-offs in the areas they were implemented in. “In Joe Gqabi and Chris Hani, water relief intervention is being implemented with Maletswai and Gariep municipalities being key beneficiaries,” she said.

Somyo was reacting to news last week that three Eastern Cape municipalities faced electricity supply interruptions after they failed to pay their Eskom bills.

These were Raymond Mhlaba, Walter Sisulu and Inxuba Yethemba municipalities.

The blackouts were suspended at the 11th hour after Somyo’s office intervened and facilitated a deal to have the bills settled. He said the electricity cuts were confirmation that some municipalities had been experiencing challenges handling money.

“Municipalities must budget properly, look at priorities and pay their debts.

“They must also collect the money owed to them because there are people who can afford to pay who don’t pay.

“They must ensure revenue is tracked and claimed.”

He also urged government departments to pay municipalities for services rendered.

He said the R1.2-billion budget was aimed at ensuring that municipalities provide quality services.

“We beg people to pay when they receive quality services,” he said.

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