Eskom re­new mu­nic­i­pal debt deal

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - SIYABONGA MKHWANAZI

CO-OP­ER­A­TIVE Gov­er­nance and Tra­di­tional Af­fairs Min­is­ter Des van Rooyen says he is in dis­cus­sions with pre­miers, pro­vin­cial MECs and may­ors to break the dead­lock on the R8.2 bil­lion owed by mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to Eskom.

He said the debt owed by 59 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties that had de­faulted af­ter pre­vi­ous agree­ments to pay now needs to be brought down.

In a writ­ten par­lia­men­tary re­ply yes­ter­day, Van Rooyen said they had man­aged to reach some agree­ments with pro­vin­cial lead­ers and may­ors on the debt.

“In hold­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties ac­count­able, the De­part­ment of Co-op­er­a­tive Gov­er­nance and Tra­di­tional Af­fairs as part of the In­ter-Min­is­te­rial task team on Eskom debt, has been in dis­cus­sion with pre­miers, MECs and may­ors,” said Van Rooyen.

They reached an agree­ment with Eskom that it would cut the in­ter­est rate charged to mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties from 5% to 2.5% plus prime.

The power util­ity would con­sider re­view­ing charg­ing in­ter­est af­ter 15 days in­stead of 30 days, in line with the law.

When mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties start pay­ing, the money would go straight to the ac­tual debt rather than into the in­ter­est, said Van Rooyen.

He said the num­ber of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties which had en­tered into agree­ments with Eskom had in­creased from 24 last year to 54.

“The in­ter-min­is­te­rial task team is in the process of re­solv­ing the leg­isla­tive mat­ters on elec­tric­ity retic­u­la­tion be­tween Eskom and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties,” said Van Rooyen.

He said out of the to­tal of R8.2bn owed by mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, the Free State had the big­gest debt of R3.6bn against Eskom.

In the Free State, two mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties had the largest debt – more than R1bn each.

Ma­luti-a-Pho­fung mu­nic­i­pal­ity, owed Eskom R1.6bn and Matjhabeng owed the power util­ity R1.2bn.

The other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in the prov­ince had debts of R124 000 and less. The Free State was fol­lowed by Mpumalanga, which was ow­ing Eskom R2.2bn. Emalahleni had the largest debt of R937 mil­lion, with Thaba Ch­weu ow­ing R364m. In the North West, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties there owed Eskom a to­tal of R780m.

In Gaut­eng, debt was sit­ting at R508m with Rand­fontein hav­ing the largest debt of R149m fol­lowed by Mo­gale City, which owed R127m.

In the North­ern Cape, the debt was sit­ting at R465m fol­lowed by the Eastern Cape at R328m, Lim­popo R287m, Western Cape R11m and KwaZulu-Natal R6m.

Only two mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, eDumbe and Mpo­fana, owe R2.6m and R3.4m re­spec­tively.

In the Western Cape, only Kan­na­land was in ar­rears. It owes Eskom R11m.

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