Shackled by debt, service backlogs

LITTLE HOPE: Hollanda township resident Anna Vena with her son Lewen Picture: MELITTA NGALONKULU
LITTLE HOPE: Hollanda township resident Anna Vena with her son Lewen

New municipality forced to seek bailout

With a mountain of service delivery backlogs and debt, the newly formed Dr Beyers Naude Municipality desperately needs a bailout from the national government to be able to function.

The municipality, which was a merger between the Ikwezi, Baviaans and Camdeboo municipalities, is not only struggling to pay its creditors, but is also battling to get money from residents for rates and services.

The majority of residents, particularly in the Jansenville and Kliplaat area, are poor. The residents are, however, pinning their hopes on the newly formed entity to improve their dire conditions.

In a drive through Jansenville’s Hollanda township, it was evident that the area was underdeveloped, with residents saying they had lost all hope.

Anna Vena, 45, who rents a backyard shack with her two children, said there was nothing good happening in their community.

“We last saw houses being built in 2009.

There are no jobs. Nothing is happening here,” Vena said.

She said they all relied on the grant she received for her children to get by.

“I have been living in my shack for the past three years.

“When I do get a piece job as a domestic worker, I earn R150 for two days of work,” Vena said. Vena’s daughter Madeline, 15, becomes emotional when asked about their living conditions.

“I wish my mom could get a better house and a permanent job. We all sleep in a single bed, I wish we were not struggling like this,” Madeline said.

The shack has no electricity. They use an outside toilet and communal tap for water.

Sophie Marman, 74, said although the area was poverty-stricken, they all tried to help each other out.

“We have got used to this situation. I help Anna with food when I can and she does the same thing. “I am also a pensioner who stays with my unemployed son. We are hoping things will improve,”Marman said.

Both Marman and Vena said the new merged municipality was a good plan and they were pinning their hopes on it to improve their lives.

However, the municipality’s debt currently sit at R65-million.

It is owed R125- million but does not know how things will improve at this stage.

Mayor of the Beyers Naude Municipality, Deon de Vos, said as they approached the end of a second month in office, the financial battles of the municipality were so dire that they would need the government to bail them out.

“We have not received any financial support since the transition to form a new municipality. We owe a lot of money to creditors.”

“Currently at the former Ikwezi municipality, telephone lines are down because the bill has not been paid. “We cannot communicate with residents in those areas,” said De Vos.

De Vos said they had started this week to visit each ward to hear what the challenges were.

“We were in Kliplaat and Jansenville [on Wednesday] and we found that people are not treated well by our officials,” De Vos said.

“From what we could gather the residents feel we are an unresponsive government . “Complaints are not being followed up and the attitude of our staff is casual.”

“I don’t know if it is because of the transition, but the general feeling from communities is that officials are unresponsive,” he said.

The entity also inherited service delivery backlogs including tarring of roads, housing delivery and potable water.

De Vos said they had sent proposals to the Treasury and the Sarah Baartman district municipality requesting assistance with funding.


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