A GROUP comprising concerns citizens and businesses in Grahamstown has appealed to province to intervene in the financially ailing Makana Municipality by placing it under administration and providing financial and drought relief.
The urgent request follows a demand to Makana two weeks ago that it voluntarily submit to administration within seven days, listing a litany of indebtedness and lack of resources, as well as the alleged unconstitutional use of electricity income to pay salaries and service debt instead of paying Eskom.
The deadline passed and the Concerned Citizens Committee to Save Makana subsequently sent their appeal to the Eastern Cape MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Fikile Xasa, as well as the ministers of finance and Cogta and the National Treasury.
The letter was signed by Concerned Citizens Committee chairman Ron Weissenberg, who said: “Although the municipality has requested an extension of time to deal with this matter, they have had some years, including several unsuccessful and inconclusive initiatives to rectify the dire situation. We are of the view that the matter is critical and extremely urgent.”
Among the problems listed in the original letter were that municipality owes creditors R146 184 978, and is itself owed R366 812 651 in unpaid arrears
Among the problems listed in the original letter were that municipality owes creditors R146 184 978, and is itself owed R366 812 651 in unpaid arrears. Its debt to Eskom stands at R55 050 503 and Eskom had already indicated a possible shutdown or disruptions to supply. This in turn would affect the water supply in the midst of a drought, Weissenberg said.
Just as it gave an ultimatum to Makana, the Concerned Citizens Committee has now given an ultimatum to Eastern Cape Cogta to place Makana under administration in terms of Section 139(5) of the Constitution and assist with emergency funding for drought and financial relief in the amount of R47-million.
Weissenberg said if province did not do so within 14 days of receiving the letter, the organisations which make up the Concerned Citizens group – the Grahamstown Business Forum, Grahamstown Residents’ Association and Makana Unity League – reserved the right to take the matter to the high court.
TotT sent queries to Eastern Cape Cogta, the national Cogta ministry and finance ministry on Monday. None have responded. Makana Municipality has still not responded to TotT’s questions.