MoneyA total of R213 million has been paid by municipalities to water boards to settle outstanding water debts according to Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane.

Speaking at a briefing on the agreements reached between municipalities, the Department of Water and Sanitation and water boards, the minister said R55.5 million had been paid by municipalities to the Water Trading Entity of the Department of Water and Sanitation.

Debt recovery

The briefing follows an announcement the Minister made on 27 November that the department was embarking on a process aimed at recovering a total outstanding debt of R10.7 billion owed to the department and water boards by various municipalities.

The notices issued advised the 30 affected municipalities of the department’s intention to invoke Section 59 (3) (b) of the National Water Act, which allows the department to restrict or suspend the flow of water to defaulting municipalities.

“Commitments received since our initial pronouncements and over and above monies already received amount to R300 million,” Mokonyane explained.

More money to come

The department anticipates that this figure will increase over the next few days, as more municipalities have made commitments to pay the agreed amounts towards the old debt and to settle their current account debt, which are invoices not older than 30 days.

“Of the 30 municipalities cited, 25 have made contact with the department and water boards, and have made commitments to make payment against their debt thus far. Eleven municipalities have made payment towards their debts by the deadline of 8 December 2017.

“There are municipalities that have raised disputes with some portions of the debt owed and to this end, we have agreed on a process to be followed in resolving debt under dispute and separating it from the main debt, to allow for a commencement of payment on the undisputed portions of the debt,” the minister said.