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  • Writer's pictureHoedspruit Chamber Sakekamer

Newsletter - November 2023

The municipalities are making news headlines that are getting the attention of residents. Updates on sewage and the rate payers poll is also discussed. See the IDP situational analysis meeting summary.


In the Headlines

Both Mopani District Municipality and Maruleng Municipality has been making waves in the media. Herewith some articles for those interested.
Herald article on the UIFWE expenditure: CLICK HERE
Herald article on Hoedspruit Bulk Water Supply and Kampersrus road rehabilitation: CLICK HERE

But it is not all bad, the plans for the international airport license is still going ahead. Read about it and listen to the interview HERE. We hope to continue to work together with both municipalities to create more good news stories.

Sewage update

The sewage problems are far from over however, much needed work has been done by Mopani over the past few weeks. We would like to thank them for their efforts with the new man hole covers and cleaning of the Leguan street station.
What is outstanding at the moment is fixing of the Leguan street pump and the terrible spill from the new man holes at the Air Force Base Main gate. We have included some pictures below that was taken on 20 November. The pollution is horrendous as the sewage is spilling into the surrounding fields. Not to mention the awful stench.
We keep doing oversight visits and reporting any issues to Mopani. Below some pictures on what it looks like at the Drakensig main gate.
A question was asked during a parliamentary oversight meeting regarding waste water treatment plants. Herewith the transcript:

Question NW3360 to the Minister of Water and Sanitation: 08 November 2023 - NW3360

Myburgh, Mr NG to ask the Minister of Water and Sanitation
(1)What
(a) number of criminal charges has his department laid against municipal mayors and/or executive mayors who are in flagrant breach of legislation pertaining to the management of wastewater treatment facilities and water treatment plants
(i) in the (aa) 2021-22 and (bb) 2022-23 financial years and
(ii) since 1 April 2023 and
(b) are the relevant details in each case;

(2) what
(a) are the details of all criminal charges that his department is currently in the process of instituting against municipal managers and/or executive mayors who are in serial transgression of water and sanitation legislation in the 2023-24 financial year and
(b) are the relevant details in each case?
Reply:
1. (a) Municipal- and executive mayors are generally not charged in matters against the local or district municipality as they are not accounting officers. Municipal Managers are also not as a general rule charged in their personal capacity, but the Municipal Manager is cited as the accounting officer in civil and charged in criminal matters as the head of the municipality (corporate entity). Should gross negligence or misconduct be reported or detected we are obliged to investigate and these individuals including the mayors can be charged. The matters below are cases against municipalities where the Municipal Manager has not been charged in their personal capacity. The Department of Water and Sanitation together with Department of Forestry Fisheries and Environment has however recently had a successful engagement with the National Director Public Prosecutions to reinstate and charge the delinquent Municipal Manager of Lephalale Local Municipality. There are also three contempt of court applications for Lekwa LM, Mookgopong LM and Dr Ruth Segomotsi DM where the Municipal Managers will be held personally liable.

Criminal Enforcement Actions Taken Against Non-Compliant Municipalities

SECTOR

2021 – 2022 financial year

2022 – 2023 financial year

1 April 2023 onwards

Local Government [WSA/WSP]

3

10

11

Total

3

10

11

2. (a) The criminal charges instituted against municipalities and their municipal managers vary on a case by case basis. Based on section 151(1) of the National Water Act, 1998 (Act no. 36 of 1998) this can include subsection (a) use of water other than permitted under this Act; subsection (c) failure to comply with any condition attached to a permitted water use under this Act; subsection (d) failure to comply with a directive issued under section 19, 20, 53; subsection (i) unlawfully and intentionally or negligently committing any act or omission which pollutes or is likely to pollute a water resource. Cases opened in the 2023/ 2024 financial year are listed in the table below:

WASTEWATER TREATMENT WORKS

MUNICIPALITY

SAPS CAS NUMBER

Bushkoppies and Goudkoppies WWTW

City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality

62/07/2023 & 423/07/2023

Hoedspruit WWTW

Maruleng LM

10/10/2023

Percy Stewart WWTW

Mogale City

76/08/2023

Hlelo Lunathi Hendrina

Nkangala District Municipality

108/08/2023

Thabazimbi WWTW

Thabazimbi LM

112/08/2023

Lindley WWTW

Nketoana LM

116/09/2023

Koffiefontein WWTW

Letsemeng LM

12/09/2023

Zandspruit pumpstation

Johannesburg Water

127/09/2023

Giyani WWTW

Mopani District Municipality

404/10/2023

Ermelo WWTW diversion

Msukaligwa LM

108/10/2023

Oxidation pond cleanup

Our next project is the cleanup of the oxidation ponds in Drakensig. However the amount of work and associated liability risk to volunteers are not covered by our existing constitution. We have put out our feelers for quotes from professionals and will instead try to raise the necessary funds to get the work done.
In addition to asking the community for help once again, we have decided to enter the Lottoland Help a Town competition as well to see if we can win the prize money to spend on regeneration projects. Some of the projects we have in mind are:
  • FUNCTIONAL - Oxidation pond cleanup

  • SAFETY - Main & suburb streetlight fixing/replacement

  • VISUAL - Main street gardens rejuvenation and irrigation

There may be other things that we have not thought about, so why not give us a call if you have other great ideas. The prize money covers a R500k project(s). We would love to hear your inputs. In the mean time, hold thumbs so that we win the competition, it would be great to invest that money back into Hoedspruit.

IDP Meeting feedback

On 10 November we had another IDP REP Forum meeting. Herewith the summary feedback on what happened and what was discussed. We have requested a copy of the presentation multiple times from the mayor's PA, but have not received it yet.
- The meeting started 20 minutes late and was attended by 45 people. The meeting was opened with a prayer and the speaker welcomed everybody. Apologies were mentioned.
- The presenter proceeded in Sotho and mentioned all attendees. Unfortunately, the HCS representative, Lizmari is not proficient in Sotho so could not take proper notes. Wards & organisations were welcomed.
- An IEC presenter did a presentation on voting registration in Sotho. Lizmari, objected and asked that the meeting continue in English so that everyone can understand and proper notes be taken to be disseminated to the community. The presenter switched to English but was then stopped by the Speaker where Sotho was exchanged and then proceeded in Sotho again. No notes could be taken.
- The situational analysis presentation was done in English and some comments were made in Sotho. The presenter concentrated on explaining the graphics and congratulated the hall for the growth in the district population which means that MLM will get more grants (money from government).
(If you take the other statistics into consideration, the growth of our district is not a positive outcome if there is not an increase in education or employment rates that correlate with the growth.)
A quick SWOT analysis was done based on the data and divided into the categories as such - not discussed in the meeting, done by HCS afterwards:

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

  • Agriculture

  • Tourism

  • Air Force Base with land, security, water & sewage

  • Town & Farm Watch – security & safety

  • Water & Sewage infrastructure & supply

  • Lack of affordable housing

  • Illegal water & electricity connections

  • Total lack of preventative maintenance

  • Failing transport system

  • Poor road conditions and poor road maintenance

OPPORTUNITIES

THREATS

  • R40 corridor connection to Maputo

  • Tours/businesses to promote rural villages & introduce economic development & employment opportunities

  • Privatisation of services delivery to curb overspending

  • Solar plant for town

  • Push economic development in wards paying least/no rates to create more rate paying areas

  • Create a recycling plant or accessible dumping area

  • Land grabs of privately owned land (report made mention multiple times that it is hard to get land as much of it is owned by reserves/farmers who don’t want to sell)

  • Unwanted/unnecessary land development

  • Low cost/RDP housing for non-tax payers instead of affordable housing for tax payers

  • Taxis – irresponsible driving, criminal activity & in-fighting of associations

  • Illegal shacks & settlements

  • Public Service corruption

  • Ecological – illegal dumping

Mayor Musolwa was elsewhere engaged. Acting Mayor Mashabana made the closing comments in Sotho. Again, Lizmari was not able to take notes.

Rate Payers Poll Results

We have been getting a tremendous amount of complaints & questions about the recent rates increases. By far, the most asked question was: "Why am I paying Rates & Taxes if the municipality is not providing the services?" and the most logged complaint was: "My rates far exceed the amount on the value of my home."
We don't have answers to everyone's questions but have referred them to the helpful ladies at MLM to lodge objections or ask the municipality directly. Many have received the information that they require, and others haven't - note that the objection processes are still in progress as MLM have not been able to respond to everyone yet.
Hoedspruit does not have a rate payers organisation and it is not within the purview of HCS to provide that service. We have thus decided to create a poll to allow people to send us their feedback on service delivery improvement for us to determine the best way forward to assist from our side. Herewith the results:
  • 86 people participated in the poll

  • Most people believe that starting a rate payers organisation and/or becoming as independent as possible is the answer to better service delivery - our own private contractors with strict SLA's.

  • Out of the 86 participants, most pay their rates & taxes. To the small percentage that doesn't, we would urge you to rather set up a meeting with MLM and discuss your grievances than withholding rates, which is illegal.

  • Most concerns were around farms having to pay levies for no services rendered by the municipality or the fact that we pay taxes but the community still has to do much of the work ourselves, for example town cleanups, pothole fixing; and estate home owners paying for services that are actually rendered by the estate and not the municipality.

HCS Rate Payers Poll Results
There are still some invalid remarks like paying too high an amount for rates. But when the owner is asked what would they be willing to sell their house for, the rate is 100% spot on or even too low - you can't have your cake and it too. And then there are definitely those who will have to follow up on objections where houses were over-valued and the rate is based on other properties in their area that are much bigger or are undervalued because a valuator didn't visit their premises. Please continue to follow the processes as set out by our previous press release. You can find it on our website.

HCS have decided that we will collect complaints surrounding service delivery via a survey and then set up a meeting with the mayor to discuss it with him personally. Our commitment to the community will always be to protect their public interest. However, we also have a commitment to work with our municipalities to exhaust all possible avenues before looking at other recourse options.

Residential Rates Statement Explained - a step by step guide:


In terms of the MPRA, property rates are calculated on the value of the land and of any improvements or buildings. This value is based on the property’s market value – the price you would realistically get for a property in the open market, between a willing buyer and a willing seller.
Using this value as a base, a comparative value of all properties in a neighbourhood can be calculated. This assessed value is called the municipal value and is used by Maruleng Local Municipality for the levying of property rates.
Different rates are levied against different categories of property. Properties are grouped in categories based on zoning and billed as per the Land Use; for example, domestic properties and sectional title properties are generally residential, factories and warehouses are business, and schools are education. Churches are exempted, do not pay rates.

HOW TO CALCULATE YOUR RATES:


STEP 1:

Request your valuation from MLM or view a copy of the General Valuation Roll on their website. Look for your address and you will find the home value currently used by MLM.

STEP 2:

Understanding the calculations & tariffs.
A. Rateable Value = Market Value – R 130 000.00 (exempted amount*)
B. Rebates = Res in Town (20%) ; Res in Estates (25%); Res in Farms (35%)
C. Residential Tariff 2023/24: R0.0121
D. Annual Rate = Rateable value x residential tariff (A – B x C)
E. Monthly Rate = Annual Rate ÷ 12 (D÷12)

* How is the exempt amount calculated?
The municipality will not levy a rate on the first value up to R130 000 on the market value as per the valuation roll of residential properties as follows: On the first R15 000 on the bases set out in Section 17(1) of the MPRA and on the balance of the market value up to R115 000 in respect of residential properties, provided that the Council may from time to time during its annual budget contemplated in Section 12(2) of the Act determine as threshold, the amount to be deducted from the market value of residential properties, as a result of which rates will only be determined on the balance of the market value of such properties after deduction of the threshold amount.

STEP 3:

Water, Sewerage and refuse calculation: Unit x Tariff

And there you have it! It remains your responsibility to check your statement and calculations and ensure that you visit MLM if anything needs to be corrected. Remember mistakes can creep in when processing bulk statement in software - humans are not perfect, and neither are computers. MLM do not have the capacity to check every single statement each month, but they are willing to assist if you have problem. For more information on tariffs - please visit the Maruleng website and browse the document section.

STRANGE BUT TRUE: Did you know that the current tariff of 0.0121 is a 7% decrease from the previous rate of 0.0128?

Happy holidays

There will be no December newsletter as the whole management committee is taking a well deserved break to enjoy some quality time with their families.
We wish you all the most wonderful holiday season. Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah and stay blessed to the rest! If you are travelling, please be safe on the roads.
PS: Please make sure that you have a printout of the service delivery contact documents that we have distributed on Whatsapp and Facebook should you need assistance with during the holiday period.





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