The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) says Rand Water’s decisions to limit water supply to certain Mpumalanga municipalities because of non-payment is a direct result of bosses getting backdated bonuses.

Rand water recently reduced water pressure to the Govan Mbeki and Victor Khanye Local Municipality’s. Parts of Govan Mbeki have had their water supply reduced by 20-40% while water pressure to Victor Khanye Local Municipality has been reduced by 60%.

According to Outa while municipalities fail to pay for essentials like water, the national Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) has allowed them to increase salaries for councillors and senior managers every year, without any reference to performance.

High salaries

“On 21 December, CoGTA published the annual increase in the upper limits of salaries for councillors, with mayors paid up to R752 483 a year in the smallest municipalities and up to R1.350m in the largest. The range for part-time councillors is R237 846 to R505 677,” Outa notes.

On 8 November, CoGTA published the updated upper limits for municipal managers and senior managers. Municipal managers may now be paid up to R1.163m in the smallest municipalities and up to R3.934m in the largest.

Both notices backdate the salary increases to 1 July 2018.

The organisation says that CoGTA should be actively implementing austerity measures in struggling municipalities rather than encouraging them to increase expenses.

“Salary increases and bonuses should be for those who are performing well in their job function and should not be seen as an entitlement,” says Michael Holenstein, manager for Outa Local Government.

“This is money that should be put towards essentials like paying the water bill.”

Amounts due

The Govan Mbeki Local Municipality owes Rand Water R87 730 975. 23million while the Victor Khanye Local Municipality owes the utility R85 991 496. 32. Both amounts are due on 31 January 2019.

Outa calls on Rand Water to ensure that all communities receive basic water deliveries and on CoGTA to work with the municipalities to get these bills paid.

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