Fix those leaks and illegal connections, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma tells eThekwini

31 July 2019 - 13:27 By Orrin Singh
Minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma shortly after her address at an eThekwini council sitting on Wednesday.
Minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma shortly after her address at an eThekwini council sitting on Wednesday.
Image: Orrin Singh

Minister of co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma "expects" the eThekwini municipality to put together a plan to address irregular and wasteful expenditure.

Addressing members of the media and councillors at a full council sitting at Durban's city hall on Wednesday, Dlamini-Zuma said the metro could not afford to continue writing off bad debt.

She made particular reference to water leaks and illegal connections within the city, citing a revenue loss of R740m due to water leaks alone.  

"We must find ways to improve collection on services rendered by the municipality. The metro cannot afford to continue to write off bad debt of R4.3bn, which is very high.

"We need to intensify the war on leaks and illegal connections, which has led to the R740m revenue loss due to water losses of 105m kilolitres."

She called on eThekwini to put together a plan to address fruitless expenditure.

"I expect that the city is going to put together a plan on how they are going to reduce and eventually get rid of irregular expenditure. But also plans to ensure that where they are losing revenue, like the leakage of water, illegal connections, all those things, are also put together and addressed."

Dlamini-Zuma was referring to recent findings of the auditor-general's report into irregular expenditure within the metro.

Charmaine Maharaj, a representative from the auditor-general's office, reported her findings to the council on January 30, calling for more effective leadership, oversight responsibility and the need for stricter compliance monitoring.

The report highlighted that the majority of the irregular expenditure within eThekwini was a result of noncompliance with supply-chain regulations.

Dlamini-Zuma would not be drawn to comment on the matter of embattled mayor Zandile Gumede, who has been placed on special leave pending a R208m corruption tender scandal. Dlamini-Zuma said the matter was sub judice and in the hands of the province and police.

"There is an acting mayor and we expect that work should continue, we expect that services are delivered and we expect that at some stage, whatever issues there are with the mayor, they will be dealt with by the judiciary and by the ANC."

She hinted that eThekwini municipality would not be placed under administration despite recent unrest within the city.

She said there were 40 municipalities currently under Section 139 administration in the country, 10 of these municipalities being in KZN.

"We are just here as government to look at the city and see how we can strengthen it. We want to make sure that those that are not under administration don't deteriorate to that point."

During the council sitting, acting mayor Fawzia Peer acknowledged Dlamini-Zuma's concerns, and said that the R15.6bn budget allocated to eThekwini metro, the third-largest city in SA, for the 2018/2019 financial year would be used to ensure the provision of infrastructure.

"Our budget supports our commitment to support service delivery. That's number one on our agenda. We want to ensure comrade Dlamini-Zuma that a lot has been achieved and we will continue so a lot more will be achieved. Most important is that we are transforming lives and our democracy is growing," said Peer.

Dlamini-Zuma praised the municipality for its successes.

"Indeed today one can say that the metro is on track to meeting its stated vision of being a caring and liveable city with:

- two thirds of the population having access to water in their homes

- 70% of households having flushing toilets and

- 90% of the city folk having access to cellphones," she said.