No-nonsense Tshwane Mayor Randall Williams explained some of the difficulties his administration has encountered in collecting monies owed to it – and it’s not just residents that are guilty of non-payment.

Addressing the Saiba Practice Management Conference in Pretoria last week, Williams said government departments, many of them headquartered in the city, owe it a combined R1.4 billion in back-bills for electricity and other services.

“Doing this (recovering bad debts) means being unpopular and taking hard decisions. (It means) implementing credit control and debt collection, disconnections and making sure you pay your bills.

Tshwane Mayor Randall Williams

“Residents would phone me at midnight on a Saturday to tell me how useless I am in cutting off their electricity. That’s what we have to endure.

“I was told a month ago that the SA Defence Force owes us several hundred million rands. I said, ‘You go to the headquarters and just cut off their electricity’.

“The officers said, ‘But we can’t do that, they are the army.’

“I said, ‘you will do that,’ so they went and cut off the electricity of the army. That was on a Wednesday. On Thursday they (the SA Defence Force) paid us R150 million.

“We’ve also cut off the electricity of ministers. They also don’t pay their bills. I’ve been accused of causing international problems, because we’ve also cut off electricity of a number of embassies. So they say, they are going to do the same to use in other countries. I say, ‘Well pay your bills!’

“Let me thank you for the commitment you have made to the industry and towards the city and the country’s economy. Your profession is critical for driving good corporate governance. Thank you for the organisers for inviting me, and allowing us as the City of Tshwane to engage with you.”