AND TEN­DERS

CityPress - - Business and Tenders - LESETJA MALOPE lesetja.malope@city­press.co.za

The ail­ing eMalahleni Lo­cal Mu­nic­i­pal­ity in Mpumalanga faces the prospect of an­other round of dev­ast­ing elec­tric­ity cuts in April, fol­low­ing the in­ter­rup­tions it suf­fered last month to its power sup­ply. This comes after the provin­cial gov­ern­ment this week blocked a R250 mil­lion land sale aimed at se­cur­ing fund­ing for the mu­nic­i­pal­ity to pay the more than R1 bil­lion debt it owes Eskom.

eMalahleni Mayor Lindiwe Nt­shal­intshali said the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, which in­cludes Wit­bank, was sup­posed to pay Eskom R277 mil­lion be­fore the end of March, and the bal­ance of the debt be­fore the end of the year.

How­ever, Mpumalanga Pre­mier David Mabuza met with the may­ors of the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties owing Eskom this week and, de­spite the mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil hav­ing pledged its ap­proval of the sale of the land – amid protests from the DA and the Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers – the deal was canned, mak­ing way for more power cuts for the town that used to con­trib­ute al­most 42% of the prov­ince’s GDP.

Ac­cord­ing to Zi­bonele Mncwango, spokesper­son for Mabuza, the pre­mier and Nt­shal­intshali agreed to halt their plan to re­di­rect R65 mil­lion in so­cial grants meant for the poor, as well as the R250 mil­lion from the land deal.

“The pre­mier was not happy [to re­di­rect [th­ese funds], so they are no longer part of the plan,” Mncwango said.

He de­clined to say how eMalahleni mu­nic­i­pal­ity would pay its Eskom debt, but said de­tails would be avail­able at a later date.

ECO­NOMIC KNOCK

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