Mokonyane: Water cuts not to punish end user

Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane says the department has tried to recover monies by defaulting municipalities to very little success.

Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane. Picture: Masa Kekana/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane says the looming water cuts are not to punish the end user but force municipalities to pay their debts.

She says R10 billion is owed to the department by defaulting municipalities of which R3.9 billion is owed to the Water Trading Entity and R6.8 billion owed to various water boards.

Mokonyane says that the department has tried to recover monies by defaulting municipalities to very little success.

For this reason, 30 of the 186 defaulting municipalities will experience water cuts should they not start the processes of settling their debts by 8 December.

“We’re not punishing the end user, we’re pleading with those that are supposed to provide to the end user to take full responsibility and pay for the services that we’re providing to them.”

She says the department has had three major budget cuts and defaulting municipalities are adding financial strain.

The department says its owed R10.7 billion by the defaulting municipalities.

Spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said: “You must remember that we’re also affected by the municipalities themselves not paying their bills to us.

“So, you know when you pay your bills, your municipalities ... then it is between the client and them. We’re looking at only those municipalities that are owing at least R50 million upwards in their current situation."

'UPHILL BATTLE'

Mokonyane has given an update in Johannesburg about the department’s uphill battle with defaulting municipalities.

Mokonyane said of the 186 municipalities failing to pay their water bills, 30 will face water cuts.

“We’ve commenced with the issuing of notices to at least 30 municipalities, notifying them that the department will terminate bulk water supply should they fail to pay their water debts.”

She said the objective of the cuts is not to punish the end-user, but to apply stricter measures to municipalities that consistently fail to comply.

“The water boards have at various levels sought to resolve the outstanding debt, using various structures within the state, such as the intergovernmental relations framework. To date, these have failed to yield the expected outcomes.”

At the same time, acting CFO of the Water Trading Agency Paul Nel said debt has been growing over the past seven years.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)