Governance Crisis in Sundays River Valley Municipality

Issued by Vicky Knoetze, MPL
Shadow MEC for COGTA

Thousands of residents in the Sundays River Valley Municipality (SRVM) have been left without water for more than a week, after Eskom disconnected the power supply to pump stations in the area due to non-payment.

The SRVM municipal officials responsible for this humanitarian crisis should hang their heads in shame and tender their resignations to make way for competent government who will put the people and securing jobs first.

I have now written to the MEC of COGTA, Xolile Nqatha to request his urgent intervention during a crisis of governance in this embattled municipality.

The areas affected by the water outages include Patterson, Moses Mabhida and Addo.

The problem stems from Eskom stopping power supply to the pump stations that services Caesars Dam, Valencia (Addo) and Patterson due to non-payment by the municipality.

Although, the Sunday’s River Valley Municipality has an agreement with Eskom in terms of the re-payment of their overall debt, the Eskom account for the pump stations form part of a different Eskom account, and therefore does not form part of the debt re-payment agreement.

The municipality was given notice of the intended disconnection on 12 June but failed to take any steps to resolve the matter.

To make matters worse, the Democratic Alliance have been informed that that the Sunday’s River Municipality is currently unable to pay any creditors, even though it is not on the list of the 14 EC municipalities which are in financial distress.

This issue is further compounded as there is no Municipal Manager in Sunday’s River Valley Municipality at the moment, there is no Chief Financial Officer – not even an acting CFO, and the Mayor is currently in quarantine.

It has proven impossible to get any answers from the administration or political leadership in terms of when this issue will be resolved. There is simply no transparency and no accountability for the day-to-day running of this municipality.

In the meantime, the municipality is making use of water tankers to deliver water to communities and using generators to pump water to affected areas, however, the supply is insufficient to service all communities, businesses and farms.

At this stage people in Sunday’s River Valley Municipality are being deprived of their Constitutional right of access to water, with no explanation as to what the reason for the situation is, or how long it will persist.

The DA has requested that MEC Nqatha, as a matter of urgency, sends a delegation to SRVM to intervene, that he ensures that a Municipal Manager and a CFO be appointed, that the cash-flow situation is evaluated and addressed and that an agreement is reached with Eskom in terms of outstanding debt in relation to the pump stations.

The crisis in Sunday’s River Valley Municipality is a crisis of poor governance at all levels of the institution.

If the situation is not attended to as a matter of urgency, the municipality, which is on the verge of collapse, will be driven over the edge to complete catastrophe with the residents of the municipality suffering at the hands of incapable leadership.