eMadlangeni (Utrecht) Municipality responds to social media allegations

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

eMadlangeni (Utrecht) Municipality is no stranger to difficult times. However, a WhatsApp post now sees the Municipality facing serious allegations.

In a statement, Municipal Manager Stanley de Klerk explains that the Municipality has become aware of false information being spread on social media. Due to the seriousness of the information being shared on a WhatsApp screenshot, he pointed out that the eMadlandgeni Municipality is stepping up to set the record straight.

Issue 1: The Municipality is virtually bankrupt

The screenshot of the WhatsApp message claims the Municipality is on the verge of bankruptcy. This is false.

According to the Municipal Manager, the Municipality has adequate funds in the municipal bank account to fund its daily operations. 

The Municipality is currently placed under section 139(4) of the Constitution. This means the KZN Treasury Department controls all the Municipality’s expenditures. The Municipality, therefore, needs to apply to the MEC of the KZN Treasury Department whenever funds are required. This process is susceptible to delays which sometimes results in late payments.

The decision by the provincial government to place the Municipality under section 139(4) of the Constitution stems from the Municipality’s failure to adopt its 2021/2022 budget before the start of the new financial year (1 July 2021).

To read more about this decision, click here.

Issue 2: Emadlangeni Municipality has not paid its board members

According to the message currently circulating on social media, the Municipality did not pay board members. This is also false. In his statement, MM de Klerk points out the Municipality does not have any board members. It has councillors.

The municipality statement reads, “These councillors have consistently received their salaries despite the trials and tribulations faced by the Municipality. It is only for the month of September 2021 that their salaries were paid 3 days later than the scheduled payment date.”

It must be noted; the councillors were initially paid 50% of their salaries due to miscommunication between the Municipality and KZN Treasury. This miscommunication was subsequently corrected, and the remaining 50% of the salaries were paid.

It must be stressed that the failure to pay councillors’ salaries on time has nothing to do with the availability of funds but is attributable to the aforementioned miscommunication.

Issue 3: Payment of third parties regarding employee fringe parties:

On the payment of third parties concerning employee fringe benefits, the Municipality explains that it is obligated to pay third parties, including medical aids, pension funds, insurances, etc.

The Municipality made an urgent application to KZN Treasury Department to release the funds in order to bring all third-party payments up to date. All third-party payments up until 31 August 2021 have been paid, and the Municipality is awaiting the MEC’s response to its application to pay the third parties for the month of September. A response to the Municipality’s application is expected before 7 October 2021.

Issue 4: The determination of senior managers’ salaries

The message circulating on social media alluded to the fact that senior managers determine their own salaries. Addressing the matter, the eMadlangeni Municipality states, the salaries of top management, including the Municipal Manager, are determined by legislation.

In his statement, the Municipal Manager points out that the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), in consultation with the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) are the institutions that determine the salary scales of all public servants in South Africa.

“It must therefore be stated that all officials of the Municipality do not determine their own salaries. These salaries are prescribed by regulation.”

Unfortunately, the Municipality adds that the WhatsApp screenshot appears to want to cast aspersions about these salaries. “It is regrettable that this issue is being misconstrued for either political point-scoring or to advance political agendas aimed at destroying/tarnishing the reputation of the municipality and casting aspersions on individuals.”

Issue 5: The suspension of 2 municipal employees

The message in question highlights that two municipal employees have been suspended. The Municipality does not deny this but explains the matter is going to the next council meeting for finalisation.

Issue 6: R500 000 required to repair Cherry Picker

The eMadlangeni Municipality does not deny the fact that its Cherry Picker has been taken in for repairs. However, the government entity does deny the costs involved in the repair work.

The social media post claims a total amount of R500 000 is required to pay for the repair of the truck.

According to de Klerk, the correct amount for the repairs of the truck is R52 000. “An application has been submitted to the office of the MEC requesting that these funds be made available,” he points out in his statement.

Issue 7: The Municipality owes Eskom millions of Rands, and the town’s lights will be turned off

The WhatsApp screenshot states the Municipality owes the power utility millions of Rands, and the town will soon be left in the dark.

De Klerk explains, “The Municipality has been paying Eskom and arrangements have been made with Eskom to settle all its accounts. It is therefore unlikely that the lights will be switched off.”

Closing off, the eMadlangeni Municipality urges residents to refrain from spreading false information and that the Municipal Manager only communicates through official municipal channels.

As the eMadlangeni Municipality tackles misinformation being spread, what are your thoughts? 

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