EC municipalities owe Eskom R1.1bn

Image: Business Times

Eastern Cape municipalities owe power utility Eskom R1.1bn.

The biggest culprit is the Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality, which has overdue debt of R309m, followed by Walter Sisulu Local Municipality, which owes R222m.

The debt owed by municipalities has, in the past, led to Eskom cutting power to some errant payers.

Details of how much the municipalities owe Eskom are contained in a response from department of co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) MEC Xolile Nqatha to questions submitted by DA MPL Vicky Knoetze.

In the response to a question about the provincial plan of action to help the municipalities settle the debt, Nqatha said: “On November 19 2019, [Nqatha] met with the top Eskom defaulters and an agreement was reached to have one-on-one meetings between municipalities and Cogta and a task team established to organise such engagements being led by Cogta.

“Eskom has agreed to have a road show to all municipalities starting in December 2019 to discuss issues relating to billing disputes and possible solutions to deal with the debt.”

Nqatha said there was a payment arrangement in place between Eskom and Enoch Mgijima municipality, but it was not being adhered to.

“The Paja [Promotion of Administrative Justice Act] processes have been initiated, [and the] interruption date [of power] was to be confirmed after the court case of November 21 2019.

“The action that can be taken by the municipality to prevent electricity supply interruption is the payment of R162,421,145 and the remaining R146,953,032 to be on negotiated settlement.”

Knoetze said the DA was concerned the defaulting municipalities would have their power supply cut as notices had already been issued about Eskom’s intention to do so.

“The DA believes that cutting the power to these municipalities will not put the monies owed in Eskom’s pockets — all it does is punish consumers who have already paid the municipalities for the electricity.

“It is the municipalities that fail to pay the funds collected over to Eskom, and the DA believes there needs to be swift action taken against the officials and politicians responsible,” Knoetze said.

The other municipalities that owe Eskom money include:

  • King Sabata Dalindyebo Municipality — R165.5m
  • Raymond Mhlaba Municipality — R148m
  • Inxuba Yethemba Municipality — R121.8m
  • Dr Beyers Naudé Municipality — R71m
  • Makana Municipality — R44.9m
  • Amahlathi Municipality — R8m
  • Sundays River Valley Municipality — R5.4m
  • Great Kei Municipality — R3.3m
  • Sakhisizwe Municipality — R1m.