Cape Town - It is "totally unacceptable" for ratepayer groups to refuse to pay their rates and place their money in trust accounts, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan
said on Wednesday.
"This is totally unacceptable behaviour," Gordhan told media in a briefing on the local government budgets and expenditure review.
"It is something we want to engage with Salga (the SA Local Government Association) on and get a clear message through that if you live in South Africa you are a South African citizen, you are using municipal services - you pay for them."
Gordhan said the emerging "trend" shown by ratepayer groups was something that required "very strong discussions".
"This kind of non-compliance with the law is not acceptable at all."
He said many of the issues ratepayers had with their municipalities could be resolved "the South African way".
"We sit around the table, we say what our challenges are and we find practical solutions to them. Creating tension and antagonism doesn't help."
Gordhan said the Treasury would be working with Salga and "bigger municipalities" to get more assertive debt collection processes and to write off debt that was "uncollectable".
He said given the fiscal constraints faced by the government, political and administrative leaders had to do more to cut down on "improper" procurement practices and on fraud and corruption.
"There is no doubt much more could be done in this area than is being done," he said.
The Treasury "looked forward" to working with the auditor general and accountant general on putting "more stringent requirements in place" and getting better cooperation from officials and political leaders to ensure that taxpayers and ratepayers money was not "frittered away" without proper justification.
Municipalities, he said, had to do more to ensure they took decisions that ensured better quality spending.
"Municipalities need to focus on delivering services, on building their capacity, on building economic infrastructure, on investing the right amount in capital infrastructure and on both maintenance on infrastructure and the development of new infrastructure."
They also had to "forget the frills" such as buying a "brand new Mercedes or anything else like that".
"That will make a significant contribution to enabling municipalities to enable the national fiscus to cope with some of the stresses and strains of the very uncertain economic environment in which we are living."