Supplier repossesses municipality’s toner cartridges over R800k debt

By Gift Tlou for IOL

Emfuleni Municipality’s hopes of attending the 2021/22 Integrated Development Planning and Budget public participation sitting have been reportedly dealt a major blow.

This comes after it emerged that one of the municipality’s toner suppliers repossessed cartridges, making it difficult for the municipality to print documents for public sittings.

It is alleged that the municipality failed to settle their R800 000 debt to Siyakha, a company responsible for regularly supplying the municipality with toners for its printers.

On Monday, the company is said to have taken matters into its own hands and repossessed all of its toners.

The municipality’s bruised relationship with its service providers has been widely reported, with allegations that it owes more than R1 billion in all to suppliers.

The DA’s constituency leader in Emfuleni, Dady Mollo, said it was not fair that the municipality did not honour its commitment to service providers.

“We have heard reports in the past that the municipality will choose who to pay, and this is unfair and unethical,” he said.

Mollo called on Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma to urgently intervene in Emfuleni, stating that the municipality was bankrupting small businesses by running up bills and not paying them.

“Administrators brought to the municipality by Gauteng Cogta MEC Lebogang Maile, as part of a Section 139(1)(b) intervention have caused more harm than good.

“It is further alleged by (an) insider that some of these administrators are doing business with the municipality in their personal capacity and prioritising payments to their own companies.”

Mollo added that the residents of Emfuleni should reject the ANC at the coming local government elections.

The municipality’s spokesperson, Makhosonke Sangweni, said the municipality was experiencing backlogs in the payment of its creditors due to cash-flow challenges.

“This has led to some frustrated service providers staging a protest at the municipality’s head offices in Vanderbijlpark on Tuesday.

“Some companies in active contracts with the municipality have also opted to suspend their services pending payment of overdue accounts. This will certainly impact the day-to-day administrative functions of the municipality and to a certain degree, service delivery initiatives.”

Sangweni said the lead administrator was “working extensively” with the municipal manager to ensure creditors were paid, with a particular focus on local small, medium and micro enterprises.

“The municipality is pleading for patience and co-operation from all affected creditors in this regard, and apologises for payment delays.”

Sangweni added that the financial challenges were worsened by the attachment of the municipal bank account, as a result of which the municipality could not pay its creditors for over six months.

“Declining revenue collection levels owing to the non-payment of services by residents is another critical contributing factor to the financial difficulties the municipality finds itself in.”

He said this had strained working relationships between the municipality and its service providers.

“In an effort to remedy the situation, Emfuleni Local Municipality has initiated a process of prioritising key service providers critical to improving service delivery efforts of the municipality. Old creditors who have not been paid in the last 18 months will also be prioritised.”

EFF Sedibeng regional chairperson Isaac Khithika said the party was not surprised that the municipality found itself in such a situation.

“We have long said that the municipality has collapsed and we need credible leadership to emerge so that it can be reconfigured.”

Khithika said it was unfortunate that the municipality’s leadership continued to fail residents of Emfuleni by being unable to supply service delivery needs.

“The problem in the municipality is the current leadership, which must be removed. We hope that the residents will make the right decisions when going to the polls, especially with these incapacities from the ANC leadership.”

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