Municipal & Departmental Electricity Arrears Must be Exposed

Andrew Louw, MPL

DA Northern Cape: Leader

The Democratic Alliance in the Northern Cape will submit parliamentary questions to the MEC for Cooperative Government, MEC Kenneth Mmoeimang, and the acting Premier, Grizelda Cjiekella, requesting the names of all municipalities and departments in the province that owe Eskom money.

This comes after a reply to a national DA parliamentary question by the Minister of Energy, Dipuo Peters, recently revealed that 84 municipalities in the country are in arrears to Eskom to the value of R533 million while a further 77 government departments are in arrears to the tune of R10.3 million. We do not, however, know which municipalities and government departments are in arrears because the Minister of Energy refuses to tell us, sighting “customer confidentiality” as an excuse.

Based on the Northern Cape’s track record, it is highly likely that some of our very own municipalities and departments are guilty of failing to pay their electricity accounts. In January this year, it already came to light that the bankrupt Renosterberg municipality owed Eskom R3,5 million. We now need to know whether this problem is confined to a few municipalities, or whether the problem is broader than that, especially considering the perpetual threat of municipal disconnections.

It is unfair that paying consumers, including businesses, face the threat of electricity disconnections, and in turn economic breakdown, due to incompetence on the part of government incompetence.

The people of the Northern Cape have a right to know the full details of municipalities and departments that are not functioning effectively. To this end, transparency and the public’s right to hold government to account must trump government efforts to protect municipalities and departments who are failing to pay their accounts. Therefore, while the DA’s deputy Shadow Minister of Energy, Jacques Smalle, has submitted an application to Eskom under the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to gain access to the information that the Minister has chosen not to reveal, the DA in the Northern Cape will, on a provincial level, also attempt to expose the truth.

It is critical that we know which municipalities and departments are in arrears and for what period these payments have been overdue. For the sake of job creation and poverty alleviation, the DA will continue to do everything in its power to ensure reliable electricity supply for all South Africans.

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