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Black Fridayfrenzy hitsmunicipality

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“We need to encourage everyone, whether its private households, businesses, government departments and even municipal employees to pay for the services they receive.”

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THE BLACK Friday frenzy has even reached the corridors of the Sol Plaatje Municipality with the local authority offering discounts for payments of service fees.

The municipality issued a notice on Tuesday night, under the heading “Black Friday Special”, offering a 30% discount and 100% interest waiver on the full payment of arrears, as well as a 10% discount on current accounts.

Municipal spokesperson, Sello Matsie, said the incentive was not “something new” and had been approved in the municipality’s budget.

“We are urging all residents, including our own councillors and officials, as well as government departments, to settle their outstanding arrears accounts. This discount is open to anyone and everyone who comes in to settle their outstanding accounts.”

As at the end of August this year, the total amount owed to the municipality was R2.5 billion. Of this amount, only R268.8 million was current accounts, while the majority, namely R2.1 billion was for accounts in arrears of 90+ days.

It is believed that there are around 20 000 pre-paid meters in the city that have been blocked for non-payment of municipal services.

“We have a serious cash flow problem,” Matsie stated. “We need to encourage everyone, whether its private households, businesses, government departments and even municipal employees to pay for the services they receive.”

According to the latest available figures, government departments owe the municipality
R971 million, residential businesses owe R28.7 million, businesses owe R253 million, and households owe R1.15 billion.

Municipal employees owe
R6.3 million while councillors owe R597 000.

At yesterday’s Special City Council meeting, DA councillor Elize Niemann, welcomed the Black Friday deal, adding that she appealed to all councillors, including the mayor, to pay their municipal accounts on time.

The Executive Mayor, Patrick Mabilo, said in response that he did not “think it was proper” that he was singled out by Niemann, adding that he has an existing arrangement to pay his municipal arrears. “How I reach my obligations should not be used as an example as though I am not paying. I have a monthly stop-order and the records will prove my debit-order as well as other additional payments that I make from time to time.”

Several residents have, meanwhile, questioned why the municipality took action against certain account-holders by cutting their services or blocking their meters, while others seemingly got away with not paying at all.

“There is a property in Hadison Park that has an outstanding amount of more than R600 000 and the services continue to be provided every month. The resident has a pre-paid meter, and although a R400 penalty is added to the account every month for non-payment, they are still able to purchase electricity as well as receive water.”

In response, municipal spokesperson, Sello Matsie stated that the arrears appear to be the total account for a number of properties in the complex. “We will separate the accounts and start the process of cutting off supply. It must be realised that there are no holy cows. Everyone is expected to pay for the services they use.”