/ 18 November 2007

Authorities urged to collect rates and taxes

Local authorities in Gauteng have been urged to collect rates and taxes owed to them in order to function as viable entities, said the Department of Local Government on Saturday.

”For municipalities to deliver services they should collect the debt owed to them and take care of its employees,” said South African Post Office (Sapo) CEO Totsie Memela-Khambule at the Gauteng Vuna Awards for municipal excellence on Friday.

Memela-Khambule said since the Sapo management had managed to turn the institution around, municipalities could do the same.

”We have to think differently. Most businesses go down because they don’t make business sense and don’t take care of its people. It would be great for municipalities to be innovative, focus on people as the marketplace is competitive.”

”It is important to make the organisation work. Work is our life and without workers we cannot be innovative,” said Khambule.

”Most businesses — private and public — go down not because they do not make sense. Most of us fail because we do not take care of our people and our processes are just not good for business.

”But only if you are making business sense, you are collecting revenues, you are improving your processes, employing and improving [the] right people [will you succeed].”

Local Government minister Qedani Dorothy urged municipalities to recoup the R18-billion debt owed to them by customers and various entities including government departments and the private sector.

Dorothy said, ”We must be able to recoup the money owed to us so that we can use it to better the lives of our people.”

”Local government is about people and we must make them our priorities by delivering quality services to them at all times,” she said.

The chairperson of the Development Bank of Southern Africa, Jay Naidoo, emphasised the role that municipalities should play in ensuring the fight against hunger and poverty.

He said local authorities could play a critical role in addressing these twin challenges as they worked with households on a daily basis.

”We need to begin to think for other people who go to bed every night without a meal so that we can be able to implement programmes that can also accommodate them going forward”, said Naidoo.

Johannesburg, the West Rand and Lesedi municipalities were the overall winners in the best metro, district and local municipalities categories at the Vuna awards.

Winners was presented with a certificate, trophy and a R750 000 cheque. – Sapa