This is according to the Executive Mayor, Nkosinjane Speelman. In an exclusive interview with OFM News, Speelman confirms the municipality is experiencing financial difficulties due to a lack of revenue collections. He says whilst their financial health has been worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic and the residents’ inability to pay for services, the municipality continues to meet its obligations.
He says this includes payments to Eskom, the water board and third party payment although they are in some instances not always consistent.
The troubled municipality is amongst those listed in the Auditor-General’s report as needing an urgent intervention. It also owes the power utility more than R4 billion. OFM News, in late 2020, reported that the municipality handed over 139 farms it owns as security on the debt it owes Eskom after the power supplier applied to have its bank accounts attached.
Free State municipalities collectively owe the power utility over R12 billion, making it the province with the highest debt and one with the highest number of defaulting municipalities. Of this amount, Matjhabeng and Maluti-A-Phofung account for more than 50% of the debt.
The municipality recently made news over violent service delivery protests with residents in Thabong and Bronville calling for the removal of Speelman. The protests which first ensued at the end of May gained momentum again this week, with residents in neighbouring towns also embarking on protest actions.
They reportedly barricaded roads with burning tyres and pelted passing vehicles on the N1 with rocks.