Eskom halts on switching off Delmas
Eskom as a unit is owed an ever increasing R13.5 billion by municipalities all around the nation. A figure which could have been averted had the decision that was delivered in the North Gauteng High Court in 2017 by Judge Hans Fabricius been rolled out five years back. Ayanda Noah the Eskom group executive in April presented the state of the growing Eskom debt to the public enterprise portfolio committee that in 2016 the municipal Eskom debt stood at R6bn (six billion rand) and in 2018 it stands at over twice that amount at R13.5billion. Judge Hans Fabricius in his judgement stated that “Eskom has no constitutional obligation to supply electricity”, the judge further followed to indicate that the obligation rested with the municipalities that were at the helm of service delivery. This is the same judgement that acts as a baseline for Eskom to disconnect owing municipalities such as the Victor Khanye Local Municipality.
The Mpumalanga provincial government took Eskom to task before the adjudicators following an initial statement issued on the interruption of power supply to Victor Khanye. The power cuts are now a norm in some municipalities. Tokologo municipality in the Free State province owes Eskom R36.5million rand and now experiences a power outage of fourteen hours a day as of March this year an increase from four hours a day which is a norm in areas like Emalahleni municipality that owes Eskom well over 1.7billion rand.
Enough cannot be said about the crucial role electricity plays in the Delmas business community and the disruption the power interruption will bring to the operations. The greater part of the problem with the municipalities particularly in Mpumalanga where 11 of the 17 municipalities are not financially viable and four are broke is the consumer payment rate and the revenue collection. The Victor Khanye local municipality recently rolled out modernised electricity prepaid metres in a bid to maximise revenue collection and curb illegal electricity use via back door connections.
We wait to see what the indications will be from the Premiers office and if substantial resolutions will be reached, and if the deliberations will be a similar framework to be rolled out to the 10 other ailing municipalities in the province.