'Anc to blame'
The IFP finance spokesman, Blessed Gwala, yesterday blamed the uncollected R4,4billion owed to provincial municipalities on the ANC's culture of boycotts during the apartheid era.
Gwala was speaking during the debate on budget performance of municipalities in the provincial legislature.
He said the underlying problem of uncollected municipal debts was that the ANC is soft on credit control and debt collection, for fear of losing votes.
"The ANC's preoccupation with rapid transformation and affirmative action - at the expense of sound management practices - has effectively robbed municipalities of the necessary human resources and capacity to provide proper accounts for services delivered.
"As a result, municipalities' capacity to collect money owed within a well-defined policy on credit control and debt collection has been compromised," said Gwala.
Finance and economic development MEC Zweli Mkhize announced last week that some municipalities owed the province a whopping R4,4billion.
"The culture has simply backfired and the ruling party is now unable to turn the situation around. To be fair, it is not an easy task to convince municipal residents to pay for service delivery which is often inadequate, if not shocking," said Gwala.
He said in many municipalities, traffic lights "do not ever get fixed and roads are permanently full of potholes.
"Some municipalities, like Msunduzi are reportedly downright bankrupt," he said.
He said this status quo needed to be turned around as a matter of urgency because of the additional challenge posed by the Eskom electricity crisis and for the sake of maintaining free basic services such as water and electricity.