What about the schools and hospitals, Eskom?

Eskom’s intention to deliberately interrupt the supply of electricity to 20 defaulting municipalities from across South Africa will have a major impact on local economies, says South African Local Government Association (Salga) acting chief executive, Simphiwe Dzengwa.

The power utility issued a statement on Friday stating its intention to interrupt bulk electricity supply to 20 defaulting municipalities which owe R3.68 billion, collectively.

“This deliberate interruption of electricity supply has major impacts, not only for the municipalities concerned but also for the economy, essential services such as hospitals, clinics, schools, businesses and communities, including those who have paid their utility bills,” Dzengwa said in a statement.

He said the ripple effects of unemployment, poverty and the inability of communities to pay for services should not be ignored.

Dzengwa said the top 20 defaulting municipalities are among those facing structural financial and capacity problems and have already been identified by Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Salga and National Treasury for support.

“Continuing to penalize them will not solve the root causes of the problem. Currently Salga is in discussions with Cogta and National Treasury about the problem and nature of support required.

“In particular these municipalities need to be supported to implement their credit control measures so that they can collect their revenue and pay their creditors.”

“We call upon government, business and households to also play their part and pay for the services they use,” he said.

He said there is a need to find a permanent solution to the bulk electricity and other arrears and encouraged municipalities to pay their creditors.

“… But we also encourage Eskom to provide municipalities with fair terms of payment to avert disconnection and consequences thereof.  Mindful of the strategic nature of Eskom as a national asset, SALGA will continue working with Eskom based on our Active Partnering Agreement to find long term solutions,” said Dzengwa.

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What about the schools and hospitals, Eskom?