Another Free State municipality struggles to pay workers

The entrance to the troubled Trompsburg-based Kopanong Local Municipality's offices. PHOTO: Lucky Nkuyane

Workers of the ailing Trompsburg-based Kopanong Local Municipality in the Free State are yet to be paid for two months despite promises by the Deputy President, Paul Mashatile.

The municipality is failing to pay more than 450 of its workers because of cash flow problems. The municipality has failed several times to pay the salaries of workers as it continues to struggle to collect enough revenue.

Earlier, Mashatile promised that the municipality would receive help from the government to run its affairs as its debt is running into millions of rands.

The municipality owes the workers’ pension fund over R20 million in third-party contributions and the Bloem Water board R600 million. The debt in arrears on these accounts has grown over the years due to non-payment.

During his last visit, Mashatile announced a task team led by the Deputy Minister of the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Parks Tau, will look into possible solutions that could help steer the ship in the right direction.

However, OFM News is reliably informed by a source at the upper echelons that bilateral talks are still ongoing.

According to the ousted Free State Premier Sisi Ntombela, the municipality has a month-to-month salary bill of at least R12.2 million whereas they can only collect a mere R2.5 million in revenue. She at the time mentioned that this troubled municipality owes the South African Revenue Services (SARS), Eskom, and Bloem Water over R500 million.

This is the same municipality which was hit by a disaster on 11 September 2022, when a mine dam wall collapsed at Jagersfontein and the mudslide destroyed houses, cars, and infrastructure. The disaster also claimed the lives of two people, with one still missing. Scores were injured and over 200 people were displaced or homeless after more than 100 houses were destroyed.

OFM News/Lucky Nkuyane