By James Letuka, DA MPL in the Free State Provincial Legislature:
The ANC-led governments of various Free State municipalities, the ANC-led provincial government under Ace Magashule, and the national Minister of Public Enterprises, Lynne Browne, Minister of COGTA, Pravin Gordhan and Finance Minister, Nhalanhla Nene, as well as the ANC appointed executive management of ESKOM, are all engaging in psychological terrorism against residents of the Free State. All these different government role-players are responsible for causing the impending ESKOM crisis and then they have the audacity to fail to communicate effectively the extent of the problem to the people of the province.
ESKOM has served notice that it would proceed with unethical scheduled punitive blackouts against the residents of the Ngawathe and Maluti-a-Phofung Local Municipalities unless the ANC-led councils table payment plans that would be acceptable to ESKOM.
Should ESKOM proceed with its punitive scheduled blackouts in the Free State, it would be tantamount to economic terrorism. The impact on people’s lives would be devastating and local economies would be dealt a deathblow, resulting in closures and job losses.
Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene even went so far as to withhold the equitable share of Free State municipalities to force them to enter into payment agreements with ESKOM. This had a negative impact on already struggling municipalities to deliver even the most basic of services.
Premier Ace Magashule, the MEC for COGTA, Olly Mlamleli, the MEC for Finance, Elzabe Rockman, have not uttered a single word of reassurance to the people of the Free State on what the provincial government is doing to resolve the ESKOM impasse. The DA has repeatedly asked for a credible intervention in local government to deal with the dire financial situation of Free State Municipalities, but Ace Magashule says his government has only good stories to tell.
The Speaker of the Free State Provincial Legislature, Mamiki Qabathe, has failed to respond to our request to schedule an urgent debate of public importance in a bid to find solutions to the ESKOM crisis for more than a month now. We can assume that the Speaker has no intention of even considering our request.
It is illegal, unconstitutional and unethical for ESKOM to proceed with the disconnection of electricity supply to paying consumers. The reason why ESKOM is collectively owed almost R1,7 billion by Free State Municipalities is not the fault of paying residents. The blame lies squarely at the feet of the various ANC administrations in the province as a result of their persistent financial mismanagement.
There is one common denominator in all the problems that negatively affect the lives of our people in the Free State and that is the ANC.
It is the ANC that brought us to this juncture. It is the ANC at local government, the ANC at provincial government, the ANC at national government and the ANC managed ESKOM.
The only solution to the ANC is a vote for the DA. We call on all Free State residents to use the power of their votes next year and vote for the only party, the DA, that can bring the Free State back on track.