Gauteng owes the City of Joburg R259m in unpaid rates and has 30 days to hand over the money, mayor Herman Mashaba revealed on Monday.
“Following an investigation I can reveal that Gauteng government departments owe the City of Joburg R259m in outstanding rates,” Mashaba said in a statement.
Mashaba, the Democratic Alliance member who took over the mayoral post after the African National Congress lost the city in the local elections, has hit the ground running.
Last week Mashaba stopped a bicycle lane project worth R70m as he said the money should first be used to tar roads that are in poor form.
In Monday’s announcement, he said he would write to Gauteng premier David Makhuru, giving his government 30 days to either pay the R259m or enter into an acceptable repayment agreement with the City, “as any other defaulting resident is expected to do”.
“Failure to do so will result in the City taking immediate action – where possible – cutting services to defaulting departments,” said Mashaba. “We urge the defaulting departments to urgently comply within this timeframe so that such action will not be necessary.”
He said the departments guilty of failing to meet their rates payments are as follows:
- The Department of Infrastructure and Development – R161m;
- The Department of Human Settlements – R39m; and
- The Department of Health – R59m.
“These provincial government departments, who budget for rates and taxes, have not paid their dues to the city for a long time,” he said. “One has to ask: what has happened to their budget, which would have been set aside for this purpose?”
He said the debt had accumulated over time. “It is disgraceful that the previous ANC-led administration allowed the ANC-run provincial government to get away with this for so long,” he said.
“I have a clear message to give to Premier Makhuru and his government: from today, you will not receive free lunches in the City of Joburg any longer. Pay up or face the consequences.
“Between April and June this year, money owed by residents to the City grew by R2.8bn. Evidently, the provincial government has been a large contributor to this.”
An indaba on City bills is set to take place next week, he said.