5 Days before ESKOM cuts electricity to 3 Free State municipalities

James Letuka MPL

Free State Provincial Legislature

Following reports, ESKOM remains adamant that it would suspend electricity supply to three Free State municipalities on Monday, 04 August 2014.

Electricity supply will be suspended to the Ngwathe, Dihlabeng and Maluti-a-Phofung municipalities for a collective debt exceeding R450 million, unless payments are made.

Free State municipalities owe ESKOM in excess of R1 billion.

The DA wrote to COGTA MEC, Olly Mlamleli, two weeks ago requesting her to intervene in the looming crisis. Our letter was received, but MEC Mlamleli has failed to respond.

The MEC for Finance, Elzabe Rockman, has also been part of the negotiations with ESKOM to prevent the suspension of electricity supply.

It appears that these negotiations have had no positive impact. ESKOM maintains that unless payments are made, the entity would proceed with the disconnection of electricity supply.

The suspension of electricity supply will have a catastrophic impact on the lives of people. Residents who pay their municipal electricity bills or buy electricity will also be affected. It is really unfair that those who pay will also be forced into darkness all because municipalities can’t manage their finances appropriately.

Free State municipalities failed to collect more than R5.4 billion in household debt from residents last year. This is causes an added burden on municipalities to meet their financial obligations and negatively effects their capacity to deliver services.

More importantly, dumping three municipalities into darkness will further contribute to the economic decline of the province and result in massive job losses as companies are forced to close down shop.

We can no longer allow for the Free State provincial government to hind behind negotiations. The people of the Ngwathe, Dihlabeng and Maluti-a-Phofung municipalities deserve to know what will be done to avert the crisis.

It is time for MEC Rockman and MEC Mlamleli to play open cards with the people of the Free State.