Since threatening to restrict water flow to recover R10.7-billion debt from defaulting municipalities, the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has recouped more than R250-million and secured commitments amounting to R300-million.
In November, the DWS issued notices to 30 defaulting municipalities outlining the department’s intention of restricting or suspending water supply from December 8, pending payment of the outstanding municipal debt.
The department is currently owed R10.7-billion for water supplied, of which R3.9-billion is owed to the water trading entity of the department and R6.8-billion is owed to the various water boards.
Over the last two weeks, the DWS and the water boards have engaged most of the municipalities to finalise payment plans on old and current debt, with R213-million paid by the municipalities to the water boards and R55.5-million to the DWS water trading entity.
Commitments, over and above the amounts already received, amount to R300-million, said Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane.
“We anticipate that over the next few days, this figure should increase as more municipalities have made commitments to pay the agreed amounts towards the old debt and to settle their current account debt,” she told media during a briefing in Pretoria on Wednesday.
Five municipalities have yet to engage the department or make arrangements for payment and subsequently remain on the shortlist for water cuts should they fail to pay their water debt that has been outstanding for more than 60 days.
About R7-billion of the total debt has been outstanding for more than 120 days.
However, the DWS assured that, as water was a basic right, citizens in the affected municipalities will still be provided the minimum allocation of 25 litres a day of water per person.
“Thus, the water restrictions proposed would be designed to ensure that households and citizens have access to their constitutionally guaranteed basic level of supply, while we force municipalities to meet their financial obligations,” Mokonyane concluded.