The Gariep municipality in the Eastern Cape is unable to pay staff and councillors this month. This is symptomatic of the collapse of local government in the rural areas. There are other municipalities in the province experiencing the same problems.

Yesterday (subs: Wed, 29 Jun) an amount of R121 000 was paid to the Sheriff to avoid having municipal assets attached for debt owed.

The money owed was to Umnga Farmers as a grant.

This again is an indictment of the collapse of rural municipalities in our province.

Two years ago the same municipality was summonsed for R170 000 for debt to Port Elizabeth creditors.

The cheque issued yesterday bounced but was eventually cleared in the afternoon.

When the municipal workers heard the Sheriff was trying to attach assets, employees drove municipal vehicles away to hide them from being attached.

I am also informed by Marina Van Zyl, a councillor in this municipality, that time and again the councillors have asked the Municipal Manager for monthly and financial statements as required by the Municipal Finance Management Act.

This request was ignored.

I have written to the MEC for Local Government to inform him of this situation in Gariep and asked him to investigate.

If necessary, I have also asked him to consider implementing Section 139 of the Systems Act (where a provincial department can intervene in a turnaround plan for a struggling municipality) and if necessary have the Municipal Manager dismissed.

Furthermore, the DA will be writing to the Premier of the Eastern Cape, Noxolo Kiviet, highlighting this unacceptable state of affairs and will be seeking answers from her on how to stop the cancer of municipal dysfunctionality in the province.

When municipalities run into cash flow problems in relation to staff salaries, infrastructure development becomes the casualty.

This situation becomes a vicious cycle of shortfalls.

Thus the same problem of non-payment will plague this municipality and others in the province in the following financial years.

It is not fair that communities must suffer the indignity of service delivery failure because of poor financial management.

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