Municipalities in the Free State owe Eskom almost R2 billion and the bulk electricity supplier is threatening to cut off the power supply to a host of municipalities in the province as a result of the huge municipal debts.
“This will be grossly unfair to all the people who have paid their accounts,” James Letuka, DA MP in the provincial legislature, told News24. If the money owed to various water boards are included, municipalities’ debts for water and electricity suppliers top R3.2 billion.
The three worst indebted municipalities in the province are Matjhabeng Local Municipality, Maluti-a-Phofung Local Municipality and Ngwathe Local Municipality. Eskom has already served notices that it would cut supply to these municipalities.
Their collective municipal debts amount to more than R2.6 million – 73% of the total municipal debt in the province.
These figures were confirmed by Olly Mlamleli, MEC of the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
Letuka said he has requested an urgent debate of public importance on the matter.
In April Eskom started sending out notices to towns, informing communities that it plans on implementing extra load shedding or cutting electricity supply from June 5 2015.
Eskom spokesperson, Khulu Phasiwe, told Fin24 that the supplier issued seven notices, four in the Mpumalanga province and three in Free State.
“Payment agreement negotiation are still on the cards, however, municipalities have to comply to payment agreement terms on a monthly basis.
“Monthly current accounts have to be paid timeously and in full. If these conditions are not met, interruptions of supply will continue to be implemented,” Phasiwe said.
On April 29 Eskom reached payment agreements with 10 out of 20 defaulting municipalities.
The following 10 municipalities have entered into payment agreements with Eskom:
• Nama Khoi Municipality in Northern Cape
• Nketoana Municipality in Free State
• Nala Municipality in Free State
• Dihlabeng Municipality in Free State
• Thabazimbi Municipality in Limpopo
• City of Matlosana in North West
• Naledi Municipality in North West
• Madibeng Municipality in North West
• Randfontein Municipality in Gauteng
• Westonaria Municipality in Gauteng