Twelve councillors of Polokwane Municipality, some of whom members of the Mayoral Committee (MMCs), are in arrears with payments of their municipal accounts for more than 90 days.
Polokwane Observer is in possession of the details of the councillors who were in default as on 8 September.
The total amount in arrears is R230 391,80 and three of the highest single accounts amount to R83 549 for a prominent councillor, followed by two others with R52 895 and R34 602 respectively.
Rule 12A of the Code of Conduct for Municipal Councillors clearly states that “A councillor may not be in arrears to the municipality for rates and service charges for a period longer than 3 months”.
Rule 14 deals with Breaches of Code and stipulates that a municipal council may invoke certain sanctions against councillors who are in breach of the Code. One of the available sanctions is that, if after an investigation it is found that a councillor has breached a provision of the Code, the councillor may be removed from office by the relevant MEC. The council may also elect to issue a formal warning, reprimand the councillor, request the MEC to suspend the councillor or to fine the councillor.
In February Polokwane Observer also reported that at the end of December 2014, five Councillors were in arrears with payments of rates to an amount of R90 116,00. It is not known whether some of the councillors that are in the red now, formed part of the previous group, but it is likely because of the high amounts that are involved in some of the cases.
The Constitution and the Municipal Finance Management Act provides for the MEC to intervene if a municipality cannot or does not fulfil its obligations in terms of legislation and the question now arises whether it is not high time for the MEC to take action because the council are seemingly reluctant to take decisive action.
Requested for comment, Franco Marx, Democratic Alliance (DA) councillor said that the DA will not tolerate breaches of the Code of Conduct, and in particular by being in default with payments for municipal rates and services. “Councillors have to set an example for the community and I will support the strictest steps against defaulting councillors,” Marx said.
Tidimalo Chuene, Communications and Marketing Manager of the municipality, confirmed that the municipality was aware of the list that is in possession of Polokwane Observer. “That list has since been updated. The status of the matter is that following Council’s attention to the matter, most of the councillors on that list have updated their accounts whilst others have made arrangements to settle their accounts and a few are under investigation. Council views the matter of non-payment seriously and ensures that all accounts are treated according to the credit control or debt collection policy without exception. Councillors have the responsibility of leading by example by ensuring that they pay their bills on time every month. The Municipal Systems and Structures Acts makes provision for disciplinary steps to be taken against councillors who do not pay for municipal services,” Chuene said.
Story: BARRY VILJOEN