NEWS & ANALYSIS

CoGTA MEC must probe KZN’s unfair municipal billing systems – DA KZN

Chris Pappas says poor-quality billing that is leading to incorrect municipal accounts

CoGTA MEC must probe KZN’s incorrect and unfair municipal billing systems

26 April 2021

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has written to KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) MEC, Sipho Hlomuka, calling on him to conduct an investigation into the scale of incorrect and unfair billing in the province.

The move comes after the DA ran a survey consisting of more than 770 respondents from across the province.

The assessment – which forms part of an ongoing probe by the DA into the state of local government in KZN – has identified billing as a key challenge, with most municipalities failing to provide an adequate and fair billing service to residents.

This finding is supported by DA councillors across the province who are inundated monthly with complaints about incorrect and unfair municipal bills.

The DA is extremely concerned about the poor-quality billing that is taking place and which is leading to incorrect and unfair municipal accounts. Key findings of the province-wide survey include;

- 47% of residents are receiving estimated bills

- 26% of residents indicated that their water meters are never read

- 29% of residents indicated that their electricity meters are never read

- 28% of municipal self-reporting services do not work and;

- 19% of respondents have received an incorrect bill more than once, while 12% say every bill is wrong.

The findings are both shocking and alarming and the DA is worried that KZN’s residents are being unfairly treated by inefficient and ineffective revenue management services in their respective municipalities. Not only does this affect residents’ pockets but it also affects the financial viability of municipalities.

Further results from the survey shows that;

- 86% of residents claim that their municipality does not respond to their complaints efficiently and effectively

- 52% say that their municipal dispute resolution processes do not work and;

- 71% indicated that they are not aware of any debt relief programme within their municipalities.

In a written parliamentary reply (view here) to questions by the DA, MEC Hlomuka specified that good practice municipalities should be reading meters monthly while estimations should not exceed three months. The MEC also indicated that residents should be given notice and letters of demand if the municipality intends cutting them off – a process which is currently not happening consistently or fairly.

In addition to this, the MEC stated that his Department hold annual reviews into the credit control and debt collection policies of all municipalities. If this is the case, then why do the DA survey results reveal such shocking results when it comes to customer service around billing?

The DA calls on MEC Hlomuka to put the people of KZN first and investigate the scale of incorrect and unfair billing in the province. In addition, we call on him to implement a provincial strategy to protect residents and ensure that municipalities have functional and fair revenue management.

Issued by Chris Pappas, DA KZN Spokesperson on CoGTA, 26 April 2021