Renosterberg municipality employees indicated that they were not in a position to make any New Year resolutions as they ended 2021 on a sour note and their future prospects are still looking bleak.
WORKERS have been protesting the past weeks to demonstrate their frustration with municipality’s failure to pay their December salaries.
The municipality indicated that the failure to pay salaries was as a result of an approximately R100-million debt to Eskom.
The employees have accused the municipality of making them pay for something they had no role in.
“The municipality found itself owing Eskom more than R100-million. That is totally unacceptable. This is a clear sign that the municipal coffers have been looted for many years. The management of a municipality does not just wake up one day and realise that the necessary creditors had not been paid or that the municipality is millions rands in debt. This is unacceptable and now we have to suffer for this malicious behaviour. Those who emptied the coffers of the municipality are now living comfortably while workers have to pay for their actions. The government needs to take action against those who have brought the municipality to this point,” they said.
Others said the local government is dragging its feet in dealing with the alleged culprits.
“The people who are responsible for this debt are known and can be easily identified. Why is nobody taking action against them? We do not understand why workers who had no access to the accounts of the municipality are now made to pay for this mess. Government needs to take action and make those responsible pay for their actions. However, it seems in this country anyone can just continue with their lives although they are implicated in corrupt activities. The loyal workers of the municipality are now feeling the brunt and they now have to run around to make ends meet,” they said.
They said prospects of them receiving their salaries for January is also unknown at this stage.
“The year ended on a bitter note and the struggle still continues. There is also no indication of whether we will receive any salaries for January let alone be paid our outstanding money. What is worrying is that some of our policies have now lapsed because we have no funds in our accounts. There are some workers who were planning on going on retirement this year, however we now have heard that our pension was not paid. Those people have made the necessary financial arrangements for their older days but now those funds are gone because someone decided that they want to use the money for their own benefit. That is so unfair. We are parents and our children had to start school but we were unable to even buy them stationary and school uniforms. We were struggling just to keep the lights on and had to run around to make arrangements with our creditors. Some people have bonds and vehicle payments to make which they are now in a position to make. The Department of Cooperative Governance Human Settlement and Traditional Affairs have provided food parcels to the workers but that is not enough to maintain bigger families. Plus how long will we have to be dependent on food parcels?,” they asked.
The workers said they feel like they are basically volunteering at the municipality as they are working for free.
The Municipal Manager, Kgabaganyo Matolong said there is currently a court case to resolve the matter with Eskom.
“We will be in the Northern Cape High court again on Friday, January 21, 2022 in an attempt to find a resolution on the repayment of our debt to Eskom. The payment of outstanding salaries is dependent on the outcome of the court case as our account has been frozen by Eskom,” said Matalong.
The spokesperson for Eskom, Patricia Tsepane said Eskom had obtained a court order against the municipality which enabled them to freeze the account of the municipality.
“The municipality owes Eskom R105,140,041. Eskom obtained a court order against the municipality and executed the order,” said Tsepane.
Tspenane said there is currently no indication of whether the power supply of the municipality being discontinued should the two parties not reach an agreement on repayment.
“Eskom would not want to pre-empt the outcome of the legal proceedings, but allow the process to run its course,” she said.