SOWETAN | Punish 'indigent' councillor

Emfuleni councillor Andries Lekeletsane.
Emfuleni councillor Andries Lekeletsane.
Image: Supplied

Municipalities depend on revenue generated from provision of services to residents to support social programmes and extend service delivery to the needy.

This is the context in which the news that Emfuleni councillor Andries Lekeletsane has not been paying his for rates and taxes for seven years ought to be understood.  

Lekeletsane admitted to not paying for services to this newspaper after he was shown a municipal bill in his name that reflected he was getting indigent subsidy for water and waste collection.

Ironically, the subsidy is meant for the poor, unemployed residents and those who do not earn enough to pay for essential municipal services.

Lekeletsane claimed that he never applied to be placed on the indigent register yet for seven years since he became a councillor he did not bother to make payments for all the services he received from his own municipality.

If this reflects anything it is that Lekeletsane enjoyed undue benefits for as long as he could due to poor management of the indigent register.

It also means that Lekeletsane was effectively stealing from the poor which is criminal. His conduct also ought to be understood in the context of the hypocrisy of our politics. Emfuleni is an embattled municipality struggling to collect rates to honour its debts, but it has not missed payment of salaries of politicians who are meant to be in service to their communities.

Unfortunately, we have seen this behaviour by elected officials right through to national government where ministers did not want to pay for their water and lights bills.

It reinforces perceptions that while politicians would encourage communities to pay for services, they don’t lead by example in doing so. The result of this has been a deterioration of service delivery as more residents refuse to pay their bills.

It also becomes difficult to convince those who are not paying to do so while a ward councillor is allowed to get away with not paying his rates and taxes for years in Emfuleni. The councillor has claimed he is not the only one, which means he knows that the problem is widespread.

The municipality must take action now to collect every cent that has not been paid by those who unduly benefited from a programme aimed at the poor.

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