Rural municipalities in the Eastern Cape are collectively owed R86,507 million in outstanding government service fees.
In reply to a parliamentary question I received from the MEC for Local Government and Traditional Affairs, Mlibo Qoboshiyane, the full outstanding amount of fees owed to all Eastern Cape municipalities was R197,356,180 million at the end of March 2013.
While it is encouraging to note that R647 million was paid to municipalities from April 2012 to March 2013, the budgets of our small rural municipalities are taking strain from non-payment of outstanding fees.
I will be highlighting this issue during my budget vote speech in the Legislature next week as well as raising it with my colleagues in municipal councils to follow up on these payments.
Furthermore, I will request quarterly progress reports on these outstanding payments through the Portfolio Committee of Local Government and Traditional Affairs in the Provincial Legislature.
Of the R86 million owed by government departments, the provincial Department of Education owes R21,756,083 million and the Department of Health R36,426,303 million.
These amounts collectively make up R58,182,386 million or 67% of the outstanding dues.
The Eastern Cape is a predominantly rural province.
It is of concern that rural municipalities with small budgets are not being fully financially capacitated by receiving payment of these outstanding debts.
Therefore it is inexcusable that such municipalities have to curtail service delivery and opportunity to their citizens to improve their quality of life.
A major concern is the outstanding amount of R58 million from the Department of Roads and Public Works.
With road maintenance serverley curtailed due to reduced provincial- and national funding, it is imperative that this amount is paid now so that effective road maintenance and repair can be done to our rural roads.
This would access transport and create much needed economic opportunities to all these citizens.
The two Metros, Nelson Mandela Bay and Buffalo City, are owed a collective amount of R53,907,289 million of which R36,827,678 million is owed by provincial departments and the balance from national government.
The Cacadu District municipality and its sister municipalities are collectively owed R26,916,970 million.
The rural Chris Hani District municipalities are owed R22,919,7 million while Amathole District is a close third with an outstanding amount of R21,907,769 million.
If this province is serious about rural development and reform as it purports to be, then no stone should be left unturned to ensure that effective and quick ways are found to ensure that all these rural municipalities can develop by using the monies owed to them.
This is an urgent matter and must be sorted out immediately.
Dacre Haddon, MPL