Municipal debt in focus at Scopa hearing

Co-operative Governance Minister Zweli Mkhize told Parliament that municipalities owed nearly R24 billion for electricity and water as at the end of December last year.

FILE: Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Zweli Mkhize. Picture: Cindy Archillies/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The billions owed by some municipalities for basic services like electricity will come under the spotlight at Parliament on Wednesday.

The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) will be hearing from Eskom, the Department of Co-operative Governance, National Treasury and the South African Local Government Association (Salga) on municipalities that cannot pay their bills.

Cogta Minister Zweli Mkhize told Parliament during his budget vote on Tuesday that municipalities owed nearly R24 billion for electricity and water as at the end of December last year.

The amount owed to Eskom makes up the bulk of that amount, with the debt standing at R16,2 billion, while R7,4 billion is owed for water.

Mkhize says 10 municipalities are responsible for 70% of the total debt, mostly in the Free State, North West, Gauteng and Limpopo.

Scopa will be interrogating the debt with Eskom and National Treasury today.

Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu is set to release the 2016/17 audit outcomes for municipalities on Wednesday. Mkhize says while there’s an overall improvement, at least 27 municipalities have received disclaimers.

(Edited by Refilwe Pitjeng)