State departments in multi-million debt
MPUMALANGA and national government departments are continually ignoring requests from the Co-operative Governance Department to pay their outstanding debts to municipalities.
In October last year, the department initiated a process of reconciling and collecting more than R72-million in outstanding debts to local municipalities - R48.2-million from provincial departments and R24-million from national departments.
At the time, cooperative governance MEC Madala Masuku said that officials from all provincial departments, municipalities, treasury, as well as his department, would embark on a concerted effort to have all arrears settled.
However, since the reconciliation and collection process supposedly started, very few arrears had been settled, and it appears that departments are in no position to do so.
In a progress report submitted to the legislature last week, no payments had been made, despite letters instructing them to do so.
The department with the highest contribution to this debt is Public Works, with national and provincial spheres accounting for 28.5%, with outstanding debts of R10.99-million and R9.7-million, respectively.
It owes an additional R12.1-million through unpaid SAPS and magistrate's bills, while the provincial Education department owes municipalities R18-million.
This is in stark contrast with Premier David Mabuza's promise made during his 2011 State of the Province address, when he said all service providers should be paid within 30 days of invoice, otherwise disciplinary action would be taken.
James Masango of the DA said the nonpayment "denies the poor communities in the province basic services".
"It cannot be accepted that one sphere of government can cripple another through poor financial management," said Masango.
He said the DA, through its members of parliament, will write formal parliamentary questions to the Minister of Public Works, Thembelani Nxesi, asking him to address the issues of nonpayment.
"The people of this province are being neglected by an administration that claims to care, but the reality shows how empty their promises really are," Masango said.