COMMENT

Defaulting municipalities face double loadshedding – DA NCape

Govt failing to come up with a long-term solution to prevent defaulting on payments

Defaulting NC municipalities face double loadshedding

6 February 2020

While Northern Cape municipalities face double power cuts due to a combination of Eskom’s loadshedding schedule coupled with loadshedding induced as a result of municipalities non-payments to Eskom, the Democratic Alliance is reiterating our call to COGHSTA MEC, Bentley Vass, to urgently assist local government in finding sustainable pay-back solutions.

This comes after Khai-Ma municipality has become the latest local government institution to be issued with a directive from Eskom stating that it would be cutting the electricity supply in Pofadder next week due to the municipality defaulting on its payment agreement.

The matter of municipalities failing to comply with their payment agreements is nothing new in this province, yet still government fails to come up with a long-term solution to prevent this debilitating practice.

Last year, it was revealed that debt owed to Eskom by Northern Cape municipalities had escalated by 577% from R192 million in 2015 to R1,3 billion in July 2019. Furthermore, out of the 26 local government institutions in the province, only six municipality’s bulk accounts with Eskom were paid to date and only two of the municipalities who were in arrears with Eskom, were actually honouring their debt.

The situation is dire and in the end its local businesses, services and people who suffer.

With Eskom already in full crisis mode, we simply cannot tolerate a situation whereby municipalities augment the impact of the power crisis and COGHSTA continues to take an ad hoc approach to this energy emergency.

COGHSTA needs to be more hands on in assisting municipalities draw up their budgets and adhere to their debt repayment deals. We therefore appeal to Vass to ensure that COGHSTA proactively monitors scheduled payments and helps renegotiate payment terms well in advance in order to avert electricity shutdowns. COGHSTA should also do more to ensure that all municipalities have efficient and functional billing systems in place.

At the same time, Vass needs to team up with Premier Zamani Saul, in order to enforce accountability on government departments, that must pay their outstanding debt owed to municipalities.

DA-run municipalities are hard at work mitigating the effects of Eskom’s blackouts, at the same time fighting for alternative power sources and Independent Power Producers to have access to the grid. Some DA governments are even able to prevent blackouts experienced by the rest of the country because of forward planning and modern infrastructure.

The Northern Cape also needs municipalities like this, that will ease the electricity burden, not aggravate it.

Issued by Grantham Steenkamp,DA Northern Cape Spokesperson of COGHSTA, 6 February 2020