EC mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties owe Eskom more than R530-mil­lion

Talk of the Town - - News - JON HOUZET

Makana Mu­nic­i­pal­ity is third on the list of Eastern Cape mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties that owe Eskom a com­bined R531m.

Makana’s debt to Eskom was R75.86m as at the end of June.

The big­gest debtor is Wal­ter Sisulu Mu­nic­i­pal­ity, which owes R134m, with Ray Mh­laba Mu­nic­i­pal­ity in sec­ond place with a debt of R88.67m.

A list of 25 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in ar­rears with Eskom was re­leased by fi­nance, eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, en­vi­ron­men­tal af­fairs & tourism MEC Os­car Mabuyane, in re­sponse to a ques­tion in the leg­is­la­ture by DA MPL Bobby Steven­son, the shadow MEC for fi­nance.

Of Makana’s debt, R54m was older than 90 days.

As for ac­tions taken, Mabuyane said Makana had paid R24m on July 10, and ar­range­ments had been made for pay­ment in­stal­ments.

In a state­ment re­leased last week, Steven­son said: “The Demo­cratic Al­liance be­lieves that money paid to mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties for elec­tric­ity must be ring-fenced for Eskom, as well as the por­tion of eq­ui­table share that is used for elec­tric­ity.

“If this does not hap­pen, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties will only dig a deeper hole for them­selves.”

In July 2017, the Con­cerned Ci­ti­zens Com­mit­tee to Save Makana, said the same thing when Makana’s debt to Eskom stood at R55m.

Con­cerned Ci­ti­zens Com­mit­tee chair Ron Weis­senberg said at the time that Makana Mu­nic­i­pal­ity was us­ing elec­tric­ity in­come to pay staff salaries and ser­vice other debt, rather than pay Eskom.

“This is in vi­o­la­tion of the con­sti­tu­tion, the Mu­nic­i­pal Fi­nance Man­age­ment Act and the com­mon law,” Weis­senberg said.

A coun­cil re­port from June 27 2017 showed that Makana col­lected R9,468,505 in in­come for elec­tric­ity for the month of May, but of this paid only R750,000 to Eskom.

“The peo­ple in these af­fected mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are find­ing them­selves fac­ing in­creas­ing hard­ships, as they are squeezed by the mis­man­age­ment of their mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties on the one hand, and in­creas­ing pres­sure from Eskom on the other. All of this in an econ­omy that is shrink­ing,” Steven­son said.

“The bal­loon­ing debt owed to Eskom by mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in the Eastern Cape is a clear in­di­ca­tion of the ap­palling mis­man­age­ment of funds by ANC-led mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.”

Out­stand­ing fees owed to Eskom have al­most tripled from the R186m re­ported two years ago.

Steven­son said Eskom’s strat­egy of cut­ting off the elec­tric­ity of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties as a puni­tive mea­sure, was likely to in­crease to com­bat Eskom’s own debt bur­den.

“This strat­egy could, how­ever, cause busi­nesses and in­dus­tries to col­lapse in the af­fected

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