Kouga owes Metro millions

Piet Liebenberg
THE embattled Kouga local municipality is one of the top 20 debtors of the Nelson Mandela metro with an outstanding debt amount of more than R22-million owing for water.
 However this was only brought to the attention of the metro’s council recently.
Kouga’s debt was controversially listed on the metro’s green papers, thus considered to be confidential.
 Now the metro councillors are asking why their residents should subsidise the Kouga while they are desperately short of funds themselves and are battling to meet service delivery challenges.
They are insisting the MEC for local government, Mlibo Qoboshiyane, urgently intervene in the affairs of the Kouga.
A source within the metro, who prefers to remain anonymous, says for a period of seven months they could not get the Kouga municipality to respond.
Various attempts to get Kouga officials around a table to discuss the mounting debt situation were ignored.
The source says Kouga’s debt is well documented and they are experiencing serious liquidity problems.
Meanwhile Kouga is said to be negotiating with all its creditors.
After discussions with the municipality’s chief financial officer and councillor, Vernon Stuurman, who serves on the finance portfolio committee, Kouga promised to pay for any water delivered and an additional amount of R500000 per month for outstanding debt.
It will thus take the Kouga nearly four years to repay the debt.
This latest development follows a motion tabled in parliament in October this year by the DA member of Parliament, Elza van Lingen, requesting the Kouga municipality be placed under administration.
Van Lingen says the current financial difficulties of the Kouga are due to mismanagement.
She indicated that refusal by the MEC to intervene is further exacerbating the problem.
Van Lingen also said the DA intends going to court to force the Kouga municipality to make public a number of outstanding reports and investigations.
 In his response to questions Kouga municipal spokesman Mfundo Sobelo said: “We do not have any arrears with Eskom and we are up to date with our account.
“We have an arrangement with the metro for our water account.
“We have developed a very good relationship with both institutions and there should be no reason for any worries in the foreseeable future.”

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