Mashaba must understand he is part and parcel of municipal administration – sociologist

Herman Mashaba, the City of Johannesburg's Executive Mayor, announced that he would personally take charge of the billing crisis.

After the City’s Executive Mayor stepped in and personally took charge of’ the billing crisis in the City of Johannesburg, a local sociologist said Herman Mashaba should also understand that the buck stops with him.

Mashaba revealed on 31 July that regionalisation of the City’s billing system has left unfair arrears and fees for pre-termination notices in its wake. Regionalisation was implemented at the start of the year to reduce the time from ratepayers’ meters being read to when they pay for what they used. Meters are read and statements issued for that reading within the same month.

Sociologist Dr Liela Groenewald said that even though Herman Mashaba’s assessment of the billing regionalisation is correct, it is also important for him to recognise that he is now part and parcel of the municipal administration.

“Setting two due dates in a single monthly cycle was indeed an action smacking of contempt, on the part of the city administration for ordinary residents.

“This would have created a particular burden for low-income households, and would have forced some to turn to more dangerous and less healthy options than those the municipality is obliged to provide,” Groenewald said.

Mashaba also said residents who were in good standing with the City 12 months prior to February when regionalisation was introduced, would be reimbursed for any money debited in lieu of disconnection notices, reconnection fees, or interest on these amounts.

Groenewald said the mayor could serve residents better by developing a mutually respectful and cooperative way of working with the civil servants whose consistent work will determine his success. “However… the buck stops with him.”

Meanwhile, the mayor said that regional open days will be held across the City on Saturdays, where the City will help residents with billing-related problems. “Efforts will be focused on the resolution of billing queries logged by our revenue call centre. Currently, the turnaround time, lack of feedback and customer care experienced in this regard is unacceptable.”

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  AUTHOR
Chantelle Fourie

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Mashaba impels fixing of billing crisis