CAPE TOWN, Nov. 6 (Xinhua) -- South Africa's Parliament on Wednesday criticized the prevailing culture of non-payment of services in the country, saying this culture affects service delivery.
This worrying culture has a direct impact on the ability of the government agencies at all levels of government in delivering services they are constitutionally compelled to deliver to the people, said a statement jointly issued by Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation and Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
The statement said the aggregate water use debt owed by municipalities amounts to 14.9 billion rand (about one billion U.S. dollars).
This impacts directly on relevant departments to implement their service mandate effectively, said the statement.
While it is unacceptable that municipalities owe a huge debt, government departments, businesses and households owe municipalities 165.5 billion rand in services, according to the statement.
Of this amount, government departments owe 10.2 billion rand, businesses 24.7 billion rand and households 118.5 billion rand.
"The culture of non-payment has unintended ripple effect on service delivery," the statement stressed.
The committees recommended the installation of pre-paid water meters as an ideal way to resolve the debt owed by households.
The use of prepaid meters will also enable the households to budget properly for services they receive, the statement said.
Above all, the most basic thing to get right is the payment of services by the government departments, leaders of society and households that can afford, said the statement.
"In building a culture of payment of services, we must start with all the leaders and government departments that keep up to the civic duty of paying services," said Machwene Semenya, chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation.
Semenya called for strengthening policy that exposes defaulters, especially those in positions of power.
Poor service delivery often leads to protests in South Africa. In April this year, a series of protests and civil disturbances took place across urban areas in the country in relation to poor service delivery.