MEC must prevent Eskom’s cut of bulk electricity supply

James Masango MPL

Provincial Chief Whip of the Official Opposition

Cooperative governance MEC SPD Skhosana must immediately take the necessary steps to prevent Eskom from disconnecting bulk electricity supply to at least two local municipalities in Mpumalanga.

This week Eskom published public notices in the media informing the public that all bulk electricity supply to Lekwa and Msukaligwa municipalities will be cut on April 25, due to outstanding balances of R97 million and R64 million respectively. Eskom also invites all interested and affected parties to make submissions before April 16 as to why the disconnections should not take place.

It is absolutely critical that MEC Skhosana ensures the continued supply of electricity to these municipalities, as life for thousands upon thousands of residents will suddenly come to an absolute standstill. With no electricity, water pumps will not bring water into homes, schools and hospitals, sewerage networks will stop operating, and every home, business and government will be left in the dark and be forced to shut their doors. In short, Msukaligwa and Lekwa will be plunged into anarchy.

According to Eskom, Lekwa’s debt has been accruing since April 2012, and Msukaligwa’s since July 2012. It is quite obvious that both municipalities lack the necessary financial management capacity to bill services and collect revenue for services rendered, and of course, to pay bulk service providers – and the DA believes that heads must roll.

The DA can find no justification for ANC and its cronies’ incompetence to ruin the lives and livelihood of ordinary South Africans, and will write to MEC Skhosana calling on him to not just make a submission to Eskom, but to negotiate settlement agreements with the electricity supplier. We also believe that the municipal managers and CFOs of both municipalities must be fired, and that the National Treasury’s minimum competency requirements for managers and CFOs be strictly applied.

We will also submit formal written questions to MEC Skhosana asking whether the municipalities informed the department of their inability to meet their financial obligations, as stipulated in Section 135 of the Municipal Finance Management Act, and how the department intervened. We will also ask whether the MEC has considered a Section 139 intervention in both municipalities, as the DA is convinced that they are in material breach of their financial obligations as described in the MFMA. And finally, we will ask the MEC how many other municipalities are more than three months behind with Eskom. It is time for MEC Skhosana and his department to take service delivery seriously and appoint suitably skilled and competent administrators in our municipalities, before the entire Mpumalanga comes to a standstill.

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