DA to government: pay the R20bn you owe to municipalities

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The government owes municipalities R20bn, the Democratic Alliance said on Friday as it called for the debt to be paid.

The party said it welcomed calls from co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, for municipalities to pay the billions owed on electricity bills to Eskom.

However, it said it was vital that the “non-payment to these municipalities by a number of government departments” had to be confronted.

“Many municipalities have been struggling to meet their obligations to Eskom due to ever-increasing debt that is owed to them by various consumers, including government departments.

“In its recent presentation, the South African Local Government Association reported that 5% of the debt owed to municipalities is from government departments. This amounts to around R20bn,” said shadow Cogta minister Haniff Hoosen.

He added that Dlamini-Zuma and Cogta needed to recover the debt owed by government departments to municipalities.

“The debt owed by municipalities to Eskom is close to R20bn, the debt owed by government departments to municipalities is also around R20bn. The math is simple: once government departments start paying municipalities what is due to them, municipalities will thus be in a far healthier financial position to pay their Eskom bills, and deliver much-needed services.

“The practical solution to get these municipalities to pay their Eskom debt is to get government departments to pay them,” he said.