Water, electricity and sanitation top priority for Mbombela

MBOMBELA – The appointment of a chief financial officer (CFO) in the municipality is to be expedited. Cllr Sibusiso Mathonsi, executive mayor of Mbombela Local Municipality (MLM) gave this assurance during his budget speech on Thursday.

The position of CFO has been vacant for more than a year. Mathonsi said this caused a bottleneck and interviews of suitable candidates were to be conducted on Friday last week.

During the municipality’s 2014/15 budget and the medium-term revenue and expenditure framework, the mayor also said that residents can expect a 10,3 per cent increase in water and sewerage tariffs in the concession area run by Sembcorp Silulumanzi this coming financial year, which commences on July 1.

MLM’s total budget amounts to R2,4 billion this year. “We have been advised by National Treasury that we need to adopt a conservative approach when projecting our revenue and cash flow for the medium-term due to unfavourable and unstable economic conditions and rising inflationary pressures, and the slow growth pace of the global and national economy,” he said.

In 2014/15 the municipality’s operating expenditure is expected to increase by R1,9 million. Of this, the remuneration for employees will increase to R485 million (6,8 per cent) and the purchase of electricity will increase to R446 million (eight per cent). A total of R119 million is budgeted for the repair and maintenance of municipal property.

In order to address backlogs in water provision, roads and storm-water management, sanitation, community facilities and electricity supply and management, the municipality aims to spend R954 million (62 per cent of the total capital expenditure budget) on services infrastructure development over the next three years, according to Mathonsi.

R523 million has been budgeted for in 2014/15. It is to be funded mainly from capital conditional grants amounting to R417 million this coming financial year. The balance will comprise R63 million from internally generated funds and R41 million from a R160 million loan MLM received from the Development Bank in October. Mathonsi said no new loans would be undertaken over the next three years.

MLM adjusted its budget in February, after the 2013/14 mid-year budget performance assessment report showed that capital expenditure stood at 14 per cent of the total allocation in January.

Mathonsi said the municipality had to do more. “Our society continues to face the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality… more effort is required to improve the level of basic service delivery such as water, electricity and sanitation.

“These statistics reflect the realities in terms of backlogs and socio-economic challenges our people are faced with, which means we have to work harder and smarter together, to address these challenges.”

DA Cllr Werner le Grange, chief whip of the opposition, said the municipality’s capacity to deliver had to be strengthened to reverse years of underperformance.

“The municipality’s underperformance has severely limited the implementation of service delivery projects, and Mathonsi has to beef up its internal capacity to ensure effective supply-chain management of procurement and maintenance, as well as to capacitate the project-management unit.”

In his speech, Mathonsi did not comment on the municipality’s enhanced revenue collection strategy and noted that property rates would see no increase in the percentage they are taxed. Water and sanitation provision remain top priority.

• R79 million to be spent on the renewal and construction of new roads and storm-water systems
• R69 million to be spent on bulk-water infrastructure and reticulation networks
• R18 million to be spent on the renewal and construction of new electricity infrastructure
• 832 households to be provided with waterborne sewerage systems
• 700 households to be electrified
• Three new community halls to be constructed at a cost of R18 million.

Read more about the municipality’s finances here.

Mireille de Villiers

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