AG report to put municipalities under spotlight amid growing debt

The state of municipalities in the Free State and around the country will this week once again come under the spotlight when the Auditor-General, Kimi Makwetu, releases the 2016/17 municipalities’ audit results.

The much-anticipated results will come just days after Eskom told Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) that municipal debts across the country have increased by R4.2 billion in the 2017/18 fiscal year alone, bringing their total debt to R13.6 billion with the bulk of it still being owed by municipalities in the Free State. Maluti-A-Phofung and Matjhabeng Municipality are among some of the dysfunctional Free State municipalities that are soon expected to appear before Scopa to account for their growing Eskom and water boards debt. The two municipalities are currently among the top ten defaulting municipalities with the highest debt across the country.

Maluti-A-Phofung, which is currently under administration and had its executive mayor, Vusi Tshabalala recalled earlier this month, owes the power utility over R2.8 billion. Matjhabeng, on the other hand, is over R1.8 billion in debt. Ngwathe, Nala, Moqhaka, Dihlabeng, and Nketoana municipalities are among some of the Free State municipalities that are also in the red with Eskom.

The utility’s spokesperson, Khulu Phasiwe, said the province owes Eskom an amount of R6.5 billion, followed by Mpumalanga with over R3.3 billion and the North West with over R800 million.