CentralSASedibeng Water unable to pay November salaries
─── OLEBOGENG MOTSE 16:25 Wed, 17 Nov 2021
The financially distressed Sedibeng Water, which supplies water to municipalities in the Free State, Northern Cape, and North West, confirms it is unable to pay salaries for the month of November.
According to a leaked internal memorandum dated 15 November from Sedibeng’s acting chief executive officer (CEO), the cash-strapped water board is again experiencing a cash flow problem owing to municipalities’ debt to it. As a result, salaries won’t be paid on Friday as expected. Matjhabeng Local Municipality in particular owes the water board over R 4,4 billion for services rendered – the most money owed to Sedibeng by its clients. Sedibeng Water Spokesperson, Alfred Theys, says they are engaging the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) on a possible bail-out.
In the meantime, Sedibeng Water employees are urged in the memo to make arrangements with their banks and creditors in advance of November 19. “Our executive team is considering alternative solutions to remedy the situation. The date for payment of salaries will be communicated once the mentioned challenge has been addressed,” concludes the statement.
This now marks the second consecutive month that Sedibeng is unable to pay salaries on time. The water board previously told employees that salary increments would not be implemented this year due to its mounting financial dysfunction.
In October, Matjhabeng and Nala Local Municipalities were plunged into the throes of a water crisis when the water board’s creditors came to roost with the bulk of the pressure coming from Eskom, who ended up cutting supply to Sedibeng’s facilities to just four hours a day, following non-payment. Without electrical power for the vast majority of the day, access to water purifying chemicals due to low cash flow, and protesting employees over salary delays, Sedibeng was forced to redirect the pressure onto Matjhabeng and Nala Local Municipalities to make part payments on their debt.
The situation was averted following intervention by provincial and national government officials as well as the obtainment of an interdict by lobby group Afriforum barring the water board from cutting supply to residents.