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Administrators working hard to bring stability to troubled Emfuleni

Negotiations are ongoing to settle Eskom, Rand Water debts

Sharpeville township in the Vaal triangle under Emfuleni Municipality
Sharpeville township in the Vaal triangle under Emfuleni Municipality

A lot of ground has been covered by administrators hired to stabilise the Emfuleni local municipality in Gauteng, but getting everything back to normal may need more time.

This was revealed by lead administrator Gilberto Martins as he reflected on progress made ahead of the November 1 local government elections.

Martins leads a team of experts that was appointed by the Gauteng provincial government to turn the municipality around and save it from a further collapse in basic services. His team has been at work for less than a year and will do a handover to the new administration after the elections.

By May 1, Martins’s team had been able to pay about 200 creditors who were owed R350m.


About 98 expired contracts dealing with the fixing of the sewer system, roads and electricity have been re-advertised.

The municipality has also been able to establish functioning supply chain structures – bid specification, bid adjudication and bid evaluation committees.

These committees are now processing the tenders that have been re-advertised.

A plan has been put in place with the help of the provincial treasury to get government departments owing about R40m, most of which is for rent, to pay up.

Negotiations have also started with Eskom and Rand Water for payment arrangements. Emfuleni currently owes Eskom about R2bn.

“With the help of the provincial treasury, National Treasury, Cogta [co-operative governance and traditional affairs] national we are engaging to try to find a way so we can resolve the issue without having a negative impact on our residents. We are putting proposals of how we can settle debt while also paying electricity,” Martins said.

Rand Water has started helping the troubled municipality with the fixing of the sewerage system. A total of 18 contractors have been appointed by the company to do the work.

Administrators have also set up a formal dispute resolution mechanism to allow residents who are not happy with what they have been billed to vent their frustration and correct the right amount to pay.

Martins could not put a figure on the amount owed to the municipality as some of it is being disputed by the residents.

“Our call centre is very close to start operate... Things are not happening at the speed that we would like them to happen. Someone sometimes may have to wait about two months to get their money. There is also an outside company that is helping to deal with it, but it is not as fast as we would like it to be,” he said.

Martins said the provincial government was looking at reviewing the entire organigram of the municipality to ensure that it is fit for purpose. This process, however, will not be completed before the elections, he predicted.

He added that the type of personnel deployed to do the work will have to be held accountable if the new administration wants to succeed.

“Performance management and consequence management is critical in turning this municipality around. If people don’t do what they are supposed to do, there must be consequences for that,” Martins said.

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