Tshwane, which includes Pretoria, has begun cutting off electricity and other services to customers whose outstanding debts it said have grown to unsustainable levels.
Businesses collectively owe the municipality more than R5-billion, residents more than R8-billion and government departments and embassies more than R1.3-billion, Randall Williams, the executive mayor, said in a recorded interview circulated by his office on Wednesday.
“We are going after all our debtors because they have an obligation to pay. You cannot consume for free,” he said. “How do we afford to run the operations of the city if we have no revenue?”
An opposition coalition led by the Democratic Alliance retained control of Tshwane in last year’s municipal ballot. The vote saw national support for the ANC drop below 50% for the first time since it won power in the first multiracial elections in 1994, a backlash against its shoddy management of South Africa’s towns and cities.
Moody’s Investors Services rates Tshwane’s debt at Caa2, eight levels below investment grade, and changed the outlook it its assessment to negative from stable in October, saying liquidity will continue to be fragile in the medium term. — (c) 2022 Bloomberg LP