DA reiterates calls to COGHSTA to help keep the lights on in local municipalities

By Ismail Obaray, DA Northern Cape Provincial Spokesperson of SCOPA:

The DA is reiterating our call to MEC Alvin Botes to urgently place the Renosterberg Local Municipality under administration in terms of section 139 of the Constitution.

We are also calling for high level interventions into the Thembelhile, Ubuntu, Magareng and Dikgatlong municipalities.

This follows the publication of notices of disconnection of bulk electricity supplies to Renosterberg on Monday, 25 January 2016, and to the other municipalities on Friday, 29 January.

The DA is aggrieved that, despite commitments made by MEC of COGHSTA, Alvin Botes, as well as National Minister of COGHSTA, David Van Rooyen that they would assist municipalities which are indebted to Eskom in a move to prevent electricity disconnections, the lights are still going to be switched off.

It’s clear that words are cheap and Eskom’s tariffs are not.

The DA first called for Renosterberg municipality to be placed under administration in June last year, after the municipality was exposed as being the worst performing municipality in the province in the latest section 47 report. Amongst other problems, it came to light that cash flow was seriously constrained and there was a problem with numerous faulty accounts as well as water and electricity losses.

Shortly thereafter, the Mayor of Renosterberg Municipality, Zet Kwinana, was redeployed elsewhere and promises were made that better suited leadership would resolve the challenges.

However, after six months and repeated calls to provincial COGHSTA for interventions, the municipality still does not have a strategy to make adequate arrangements to cover its outstanding payments to Eskom.

Despairingly, similar situations prevail in Thembelhile, Ubuntu, Magareng and Dikgatlong municipalities as well.

It is not fair that the people living in these Northern Cape towns have to suffer as a result of local government’s incompetence. Electricity is our primary source of heat and light.  Without it people struggle to cook, study and so forth and without it there will be dire repercussions for industry and our economy.

The DA believes it is government’s moral duty, as enshrined in the Constitution, to ensure that everyone has access to the basic services they need to improve their lives.

Where the DA governs we work to ensure that all creditors of the municipality are paid within legal timeframes, and in the Western Cape DA municipalities pay their Eskom bills on time.

Hopes of high level interventions in ailing Northern Cape municipalities look futile. The only real and long term hope for residents of the Northern Cape now is to vote out ANC councils and vote in the DA so that we can keep the lights on and do for the people of this province what the DA-run municipalities in the Western Cape are doing for their people.