Municipal debt to Eskom brings new power cuts – DA FS

DA says people from Free State have been living under threats from power utility for years

Municipal debt to Eskom brings new power cuts

14 November 2016

Eskom has today published notices that it intends to implement scheduled punitive blackouts in eight Free State municipalities early in the new year, beginning on 05 January 2017, unless immediate payments of almost R700 million are made because ANC municipalities continue to fail to pay ESKOM.

Many of these municipalities, we were told by MEC Rockman, signed payment agreements with ESKOM previously, only to default again and again.

Punitive scheduled blackouts will see hundreds of thousands of Free State residents dumped into darkness, Monday to Friday, between 06:00 to 08:00 in the mornings and again from 17:00- to 19:30 in the evenings. On weekends the scheduled blackout hours will be from 08:30 to 11:00 and again from 15:00 to 17:30.

The municipalities affected are:

1. Nala Local Municipality (Bothaville, Wesselsbron): Owing R155 million to ESKOM

2. Nketoana Local Municipality (Reitz, Lindley, Petrus Steyn): Owing R112 million to ESKOM

3. Dihlabeng Local Municipality (Bethlehem, Fateng-Tse-Ntsho, Paul Roux, Fouriesburg): Owing R106 million to ESKOM

4. Moqhaka Local Municipality (Steynsrus, Kroonstad, Viljoenskroon): Owing R94 million to ESKOM

5. Mantsopa Local Municipality (Ladybrand, Excesior, Tweespruit, Dawiesville): Owing R82 million to ESKOM

6. Mafube Local Municipality(Villiers, Tweeling, Frankfort, Cornelia): Owing R51 million to ESKOM

7. Masilonyana Local Municipality (Winburg, Brandfort, Theunissen, Verkeerdevlei): Owing R39,9 million to ESKOM

8. Tokologo Local Municipality (Dealesville, Seretse, Boshof, Hertzogville): Owing R26 million to ESKOM.

The people of the Free State have been living under these threats from ESKOM for several years now, because their ANC Municipalities fail to make payment for the electricity they draw from ESKOM. This is nothing but negligent and reckless governance, for which the ANC should be ashamed.

These notices further add to negative investor confidence in the province and negatively impacts on an already shrinking economy, which ultimately further fuels unemployment.

For several years now Finance MEC, Elzabe Rockman, and former COGTA MEC, Olly Mlamleli, and we can only assume the current MEC, Sisi Ntombela, have failed to deal with this issue effectively. If they had, then there would be little reason for ESKOM to issue such notices.

This is not the first time that ESKOM has threatened the people of the Free State. The DA again reiterates its regret that ESKOM must resort to threat of power-cuts against the people of the Free State in a futile attempt to get ANC-led municipal governments to pay their bills.

The hours of punitive scheduled blackouts will only punish residents for the non-payment of bulk electricity supply by the ANC-led municipalities. Government failure is being used to punish consumers. These blackouts will have little impact on the municipalities since the hours scheduled fall outside municipal working hours.

The ANC remains the common denominator as the cause of this misery.

It is the ANC-led municipalities that do not pay their service providers and the ANC-led Free State Provincial Government which has remained ineffective in intervening within those municipalities, and the ANC managed ESKOM which continues to enjoy a state-protected-monopoly on electricity generation and supply, all overseen by an ANC-led national government.

If people want to end this vicious cycle of poor ANC governance they will have to vote for a DA government in 2019. That is the hope to solve this unacceptable state of affairs

Issued by James Letuka, DA Free State MPL, 14 November 2016