Mpumalanga Power Crisis: Billions owed to Eskom
by James Masango MPL – DA Spokesperson on CoGTA
Date: 16 May 2018
Instead of each time having to go to court to challenge Eskom’s planned power cuts in Mpumalanga municipalities, Premier Refilwe Mtshweni and the provincial government must find lasting solutions for this ongoing crisis.
Mpumalanga Premier, Refilwe Mtshweni, and the provincial government had to go to court to save the dysfunctional Victor Khanye local municipality (VKLM) from scheduled Eskom power supply interruptions.
For years, residents of VKLM in Delmas and surrounding areas, have endured threats of power cuts and power supply interruptions because the ANC-led municipality (like many municipalities across the country) has deployed officials without qualifications and capacity to run the municipality. Many don’t know how – or cannot come up with a strategy to collect revenue for the municipality.
On 19 April 2018, Eskom sent a letter to VKLM informing them about their decision to implement power supply interruptions from the 7th of May 2018 based on the breach of repayment agreement entered to on the 26th of February 2018 between Eskom and VLKM. The municipality is currently in arrears with Eskom to the amount of R45.6 million.
Premier Mtshweni, the Provincial Treasury, CoGTA and businesses in VKLM then intervened by going to court to challenge Eskom’s planned power interruptions in VKLM. Eskom suspended its planned interruptions until 30 May 2018 – that is if they come up with another payment agreement with VKLM.
VKLM is not the only Mpumalanga municipality that is currently in the firing line. On 9 May 2018, the Govan Mbeki Local Municipality (GMLM) in Secunda also received a notice of power supply interruptions from Eskom which will be effective from 21 May 2018. The interruptions will affect Bethal, Secunda, Embalenhle and Ezakheni. This municipality currently owes Eskom R524 million. Since 2016, they have been defaulted on the payment agreements entered into with Eskom.
Govan Mbeki Local Municipality is also part of the biggest contributors to the over R3-billion currently owed to Eskom by Mpumalanga municipalities.
Other contributors are:
• Emalahleni- R1.458 billion
• Govan Mbeki- R524 million
• Lekwa- R435 million
• ThabaChweu- R408 million
• Msukaligwa- R109 million
Over a five-year period, inaccurate billing systems and the resultant poor revenue generation by Mpumalanga municipalities has resulted in the escalating Eskom debt.
Considering that it is budget time, the Democratic Alliance (DA) will write to CoGTA MEC Speedy Mashilo and Premier Mtshweni asking them:
• to find lasting solutions to power cuts and interruptions
• to consider placing poor performing municipalities under financial administration.
Under the ANC, Mpumalanga municipalities have been plagued by a billing and revenue collection crisis for several years, which has led to billions of rands worth of lost or written-off revenue.
A DA government would conduct a skills audit for all civil servants to ensure that only qualified and ethical people are in a position to handle municipal finances.
The lives of the people of Mpumalanga are severely affected by poor management and incompetence. It is especially the poor that suffers most. It is time for the ANC to prioritise the people of this province and not just the connected few. Mpumalanga needs change. Change that only a DA-run government can provide.
James Masango MPL
DA Spokesperson on CoGTA
082 891 0717
Provincial Communications Manager
079 873 7590
060 971 4297