“Pay us or we will disconnect you. And this time we’re coming for Edendale and Imbali too.”
This is the message from Msunduzi Municipality, who has re-introduced Operation Qoqama-million, which is aimed at collecting revenue from all indebted businesses, government institutions, residential areas and tampered properties.
Operation Qoqama-million was re-introduced last Friday and will be running until November 30.
Last year, the municipality raked in a tidy R580 million from debtors during their disconnection campaign, which started in September. The funds were collected from government departments, businesses and residents that owed the city for rates.
While last year’s campaign focused on the CBD and northern areas, this time around, the operation will also be targeting areas around Edendale and Imbali.
Msunduzi’s chief financial officer, Nelisiwe Ngcobo, said the municipality has set a target of collecting at least R500 million from those who owe the municipality.
said they will also be disconnecting those who are in arrears and those who have tampered with meters.
“We have picked up that there is a regression [in payment], so that is why we are out again. What is also pushing us is that during the three months, starting from July, there are winter tariffs, which causes a challenge in terms of our cash flow.
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“[The] debtors’ book is also increasing and people are continuing to steal from the municipality. Council has allocated funding and we are getting a loan from the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) as well that will focus on electricity alone,” she said, adding that they will also be focusing more on the areas where there are illegal connections.
“Council is putting more emphasis on revenue collection. There are more resources being deployed by council now because we do realise that our money lies with our people.
“The operation is going to be very tense as we will also be going to Greater Edendale areas and Imbali. You will remember that last time we did not go into these areas, but now we have enough security and we have SAPS on board as well.”
The city’s disconnection workers have previously been threatened with attacks when they have gone into these areas to disconnect those who owed the city money. Some residents also refused them entry into their properties.
The municipality also said that the disconnections team will not be entertaining proof of payments, as the payments must be reflected on the council side.
They also revealed that there will be a legal team on standby to lodge an urgent application in court, where access to properties is denied.
Msunduzi Association of Residents Ratepayers and Civics (Marrc) chairperson, Anthony Waldhausen, told The Witness that if the municipality wants to collect revenue they must do so across Pietermaritzburg.
They must go after all the people that are owing and those that are tampering [with electricity connections] all over the city.
“The municipality must not only focus on businesses or government departments, they must [cover] households as well.
“We are encouraging them to go to all the townships and disconnect those who owe money and those who have tampered [with their meters].”