The beleaguered Gariep Municipality is unable to pay the salaries of councillors and managers this month. This is the latest episode in the ongoing financial fiascos of this municipality. I repeat my call of earlier this month that the MEC for Local Government place Gariep under Section 139 administration with immediate effect.

I have phoned the MEC, Mlibo Qoboshiyane, who was unaware of the latest situation. I requested him to intervene and see if he can get the salaries of the councillors and managers paid forthwith. The MEC did say that he would investigate the matter.

This state of affairs will have a serious impact on service delivery, staff morale and councillor motivation.

With 10 councillors (7 ANC; 3 DA) each earning a salary of R13 543 and five section heads including the municipal manager, the amount due for payment is substantial. General staff have been paid.

It is believed that the reason the salary payments cannot be made is because the Gariep Municipality was sued for R405 000 and this payment has to be made today, (subs: Fri, 28 Sept) according to court documents.

In a recent parliamentary question I asked the MEC whether placing Gariep under Section 139 intervention would be considered, given the dire situation of the municipality’s finances. It allows for the provincial government to intervene in the management of municipalities.

In response to my question the MEC has instead decided to invoke Section 154 of the Constitution.

This is a soft option, which merely states that national and provincial governments by legislative and other measures must support and strengthen municipalities to manage their own affairs.

When an organ of state cannot pay its expenses there are serious financial problems. Gariep is imploding.

It is hoped that the MEC and the Department of Local Government will immediately intervene, get the salaries paid and place this municipality under administration so that a turnaround recovery plan can be implemented that will improve service delivery for the Gariep community.