Preposterous tax raised by Thabazimbi Municipality

The Thabazimbi municipal taxpayers are required to pay property tax, as in any other municipal area. The difference is in respect of other municipal areas, Thabazimbi residents are expected to pay 50% and more property tax from 1 July 2010, without any improvement in services.

This additional tax to be paid comes from the public’s pocket, which is paid from hard earned revenue, earned under the most difficult financial situation. It is only fair that the money paid to the municipality, must be spent and applied with utmost care.

The question that we as taxpayers should ask is whether these requirements are met, which unfortunately there is no answer for from the Municipality. The following are a few of the typical problems that are experienced:

To date, around R30 million has already been spent to supply drinking water to the residents of Rooiberg. In principle, the supply of this water is not a problem. The question is why, after spending this amount, water must still be supplied by road? The reason is that municipal officials have authorized payment of invoices for payment to the contractor, well knowing that smaller diameter pipes have been installed. No adjustment in the invoice was made for the reduced price of the smaller diameter pipes. The question that still needs to be answered is whether the payment was approved by an incompetent person and how much money exchanged hands. After many years, the question remains unanswered.

During a public meeting a few years ago, the Mayor told the audience that the money is difficult to be recovered from the contractor. The question not answered is what steps were taken against the municipal officials who approved this payment.

In February 2009, R3,6 million was electronically stolen from the account of the municipality. The stolen funds were all transferred into the accounts of individuals. This incident was kept secret for months for some unknown reason. It is now one year and six months later. To date no arrests has been made, and the money remained in the accounts of the beneficiaries. The question is again why was this incident not disclosed?

Why is nobody arrested and who is being protected? The beneficiaries who received the money, have names and an identity, yet the money have not been recovered.

The question is therefore how accountable the elected councillors are for their actions. In the good old days a council member serviced the public as part of a community service. Those days are over. For the 2010/11 municipal budget, which the public must pay, adequate provision is made for remuneration of Councillors. The question then why we experience every year the same problems with the municipal budget. These budgets are approved by Councillors, in many cases without being read.

For information to the tax payer, the annual package of a councillor on the Executive Committee is R452 395. Our honourable mayor’s package for the year is R554 094. According to some informed sources, he remains to receive in addition his full salary from his former employer. The question then to be posed is whether the services we receive as tax payers aligned to the payment received by the councillors. How does this compare with your income you earn through hard work.

It is time that we as taxpayers voice our dissent about the property tax we pay. The Thabazimbi Chairpersons Forum is staging a mass protest action on 7 October 2010, to demonstrate our frustration. The public is invited to participate in this action to show solidarity on the problems experienced.

J C Viljoen
Thabazimbi Chairpersons Forum