SAMWU Congratulates SALGA and Eskom on Agreement

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) congratulates the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and Eskom for having reached an agreement on electricity supply to municipalities. When Eskom announced a few months ago that it would be not be supplying electricity to municipalities which were in arrears with payment, SAMWU objected to this noting that the worst affected would be the poor.

We trust that this agreement would ensure that there is uninterrupted electricity supply to all municipalities so not to impede on local economies’ growth and most importantly ordinary South Africans, in particular the poor. We further trust that Eskom will not once again threaten the country with blackouts as a result of municipalities’ failure to pay money owed to it.

The recently concluded SAMWU 11th National Congress noted that majority of the country’s municipalities are facing many challenges, many of them being financial problems. Municipalities have failed to recoup money owed to them for services rendered mainly because people do not have the money to pay. We are however of the view that our people should not be denied municipal services as a result of their inability to pay for such services. We firmly believe that denial of services as a result one’s economic situations would be gross violation of human rights.

We have also noted that most municipalities have failed on their contractual obligations of ensuring that money that has been deducted from municipal workers’ salaries is paid to third parties such as medical aid, pension funds and funeral schemes. These illegal practices have created problems for municipal workers as they are unable to access healthcare and funeral pay-outs because their policies are not up-to date. This practice is very worrying and is an indication that municipalities are cash-strapped as they are unable to keep up with their contractual obligations.

We therefore urge SALGA to come up with more constructive ways of revenue collection including increasing its budget by requesting an increase in the equitable share from National Treasury. It can’t be that the country’s 278 municipalities are expected to service the 50 plus million South Africans on a shoestring budget. Municipalities exist solely for the delivery of services and not profit making.

These are some of the suggestions we will present to SALGA and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs when we have a meeting with them on how all parties can contribute to the operational and financial viability of the country’s municipalities. As the largest stakeholder in Local Government, we are interested in seeing municipalities that are sustainable while delivering accessible quality services to all South African.

Issued by SAMWU Head Office