Debt to Eskom rising in Mpumalanga

By James Masango MPL, DA Mpumalanga Spokesperson on CoGTA:

Mpumalanga’s Eskom debt is on the rise, as of March 2015 municipalities in arrears owed the utility an amount of R 1.847 billion, while the total national figure for all municipalities is R4.9 billion. This is according to the Accountant General.

In March 2014, just one year earlier, Mpumalanga municipalities owed Eskom R852 million. It is shocking that in just 12 months Mpumalanga municipalities have added about a Billion rand to their debt accounts.

During the first quarter of 2015, Eskom notified Govan Mbeki, Lekwa, Msukaligwa, Thaba Chweu and eMalahleni that their bulk electricity supply would be cut by 5 June 2015 for their massive outstanding electricity debt, but they narrowly escaped cut-offs by making payment arrangements.

Poor planning and reckless spending of public funds, has become the ANC governance blueprint, which hampers service delivery. This enormous financial debt to Eskom cements the DA view that Mpumalanga’s governance is sorely lacking, as a direct result of the ANC government’s insistence on appointing officials as a reward for political loyalty and not according to their skills.

The Accountant General’s report, indicates that only 5% of Mpumalanga municipalities had an action plan to prepare their 2013/2014 Annual Financial Statements (AFS). The provincial government issued a standard audit action plan template that led to 95% of municipalities having Audit Action Plans for the 2014/2015 financial year.

It is a cause for great concern that the report reveals that 43% of municipalities used consultants to prepare their AFS. The report mentions that: “Over-reliance on the utilisation of consultants continues to be the modus operandi in many municipalities signifying poor internal capacity”.

It was also found that even though 76% of municipalities have Asset management units, only 5% submitted their Asset registers to the AG. It is very important that municipalities have an up to date assets register, as these assets are used by municipalities in the delivery of services.

What is also of concern is that the vacancy rate in municipalities is sitting at 22% as of September 2014. MEC for CoGTA, Refilwe Mtshweni, must ensure that municipalities pay their debt to Eskom.

Corruption and patronage are not only depriving South Africans of service delivery‚ but in fact steering the country’s economy away from prosperity.