NEWS & ANALYSIS

Time to flip the switch on Eskom crisis in NCape municipalities – Andrew Louw

DA PL says it is increasingly clear that the payment agreements are unsustainable

Time to flip the switch on Eskom crisis in NC municipalities

29 May 2018

The DA is making an urgent plea to COGHSTA MEC, Bentley Vass, to flip the switch on the ongoing electricity crisis in the province.

Dikgatlong Municipality, in Barkley West, which owes Eskom more than R61,5 million, is due to face electricity cuts as from today after it too has failed to honour its payment agreement with the power utility. Dikgatlong is just one of many municipalities in the Northern Cape that has to date defaulted on its payment agreement.

It is increasingly clear that the payment agreements between Eskom and embattled municipalities are unsustainable.

COGHSTA must be more hands–on in assisting municipalities to manage their Eskom debt. Simply throwing money at the problem will not make it go away, it will only temporarily hide the symptoms.

COGHSTA needs to proactively monitor scheduled payments and, where necessary, renegotiate payment terms in advance in order to avert electricity shutdowns. It must also do more to ensure that all municipalities have efficient and effective billing systems. In many municipalities, there are people who want to settle their debts but they can’t because the municipality does not have the relevant data.

COGHSTA must further assist municipalities to separate indigent members of the community from the “can pays” and it must see to it that contracted debt collections companies are providing value for money and not just piggybacking on payments from conscientious ratepayers.

Electricity cuts are especially harmful to the economy, something that the Northern Cape can ill afford given that we have an expanded unemployment rate of 41%. We also find ourselves in winter, and it is unfair that residents, especially the elderly and mother’s with small children, have to struggle to keep warm and put food on the table.

Where the DA governs, uninterrupted electricity supply is prioritized. Only Change under a DA government in 2019 has the potential to stop the snowballing electricity crisis and bring stability to power supplies across the province.

Issued by Andrew Louw, DA Northern Cape Provincial Leader, 29 May 2018