No end to EMLM power struggles
The Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM) is negotiating its fourth payment arrangement this year to stop Eskom from going through with its scheduled plan of interrupting power this month.
This was revealed during a community meeting convened by DA councillor Chris de Wet on Monday, when a group of over
100 community members discussed issues relating to EMLM and the Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM) affecting locals.
Top of the agenda were unscheduled water outages with supply a function of CHDM. Most areas in Komani, including Ezibeleni, Top Town, Mlungisi, the Victoria Park, New Vale and Aloevale, Bergsig and Westbourne have reported lengthy outages.
Another issue discussed was electricity problems, including looming power interruptions by Eskom set to start on November 20, and other infrastructure issues falling under EMLM.
De Wet, who chaired the meeting, said EMLM owed its creditors R223m, of which
R118m was owed to Eskom.
“The mayor Sisisi Tolashe presented this during the finance committee meeting of which I am part. The municipality is trying to negotiate its fourth payment arrangement with Eskom to make a R40m payment to stop the interruptions from happening. The municipality currently has R10m in its bank account which will obviously be used to pay salaries.”
He said he was anxious that the municipality would get the R40m which they had offered Eskom from their equitable share fund which the municipality will receive towards the end of this month.
“The grant of about R60m was withheld by the department of co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) and will be released to the municipality by end of this month. I worry that they will use the money to pay Eskom which is illegal.”
Community member Bennie Sahd suggested community members who shared the same frustrations needed to come together and do something. “If we are going to think the municipality will change in the short-term then we are being far from realistic. We need to stand together and come with ways to improve our town.”
Sahd suggested a non-profit organisation be formed and people could then contribute money which could be used to fix any problems that arose.
“The only solution to this municipality’s problems is cash. We could spread the word to reach more people so that contributions may flow and we would have enough money to fix problems.”
Community member Mike de Beer offered to donate a sum of R10,000 towards such an account if it were to be opened.
Tokkie Deysel of the Queenstown Civic and Ratepayers’ Association said he had arranged a meeting with acting municipal manager Donovan van Wyk and administrator Vuyo Mlokoti to discuss applying for funding from the Presidential Projects fund.
“I know about a municipality in the Free State which was in a similar situation and they were assisted through the fund. A delegation that go and sit with Mlokoti and Van Wyk must be elected.”
Deysel said if an application to the fund was successful the money could be used to fix infrastructural problems in the area.
EMLM spokesman Fundile Feketshane had not responded to queries at time of writing.
FEATHER LIGHT: Johnny Arseniou took this photo of the fireworks at the Bonkolo Dam on Monday night