Walter Sisulu rates boycott looms as ANC pushes through outrageous rates hike

Issued by Cllr Magda Botha – Chairperson of the Walter Sisulu Finance Portfolio Committee
12 Jun 2024 in Press Statements

The Walter Sisulu Local Municipality (WSLM) is facing the possibility of a rate boycott after the ANC pushed through a tariff increase that will see some property rates increase by 300%.

Residents of Aliwal North, Jamestown, Burgersdorp, Steynsburg, and Venterstad are buckling under the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, and many simply cannot afford the increases that are now forced on them.

The tariff increases form part of the 2024/2025 municipal budget, which was narrowly passed with the ANC’s 10 votes against the opposition’s nine at a Special Council Meeting on 4 June 2024.

The tariff increases were pushed through despite the DA noting that implementing the new rates would be outside the regulations, as contained in MFMA Circular 126 and premature as the municipality has not finalised the new valuation process for properties in its jurisdiction.

Public engagement on the proposed tariffs has also met with significant resistance from communities, who have indicated the possibility of rate boycotts.

The 2024 total valuation roll decreased with R1 billion in value due to an error and overstatement on the category Public Infrastructure in the 2019 valuation roll, resulting in the municipal manager advising council to keep tariffs unchanged. The new valuations however have seen residential properties increase from R2 billion to R3 billion and agricultural properties from R4 billion to R6 billion. These new valuations, combined with the unchanged tariffs, will result in some exorbitant increases of up to 300% in rates.

Although the municipality has proposed a 50% rebate on properties where rates have increased by more than 20%, the ANC has shown itself untrustworthy, having previously revoked a similar rebate in council with no notice.

The DA strongly advised the council to lower the tariffs.

I have, therefore, written to National and Provincial Treasury requesting their urgent intervention.

The new tariffs clearly violate the rights afforded to ratepayers, breach the regulations of inflationary and affordable increases, and will definitely not help turn around the WSLM’s financial woes.

Rather than increase revenue for the WSLM coffers, the new tariffs will most likely lead to a further decline in collection rates.

The DA believes the road to financial recovery lies not in bleeding an already struggling ratepayer dry, but in finding alternative means of revenue to sustain the municipality.