By James Masango MPL, DA Spokesperson on CoGTA:
Planned power cuts in Lekwa municipality by Eskom could have been avoided, only if the ring fencing of ratepayers’ monthly electricity payments which was adopted in council on 29 January 2015 was implemented.
Last year, when Eskom announced that it would cut bulk electricity supply to 20 municipalities in the country which owed the cash-strapped utility R3.68 billion in unpaid power bills, the DA had already put forward a proposal to the council in Lekwa to ring fence ratepayers’ electricity payments. This concept was successfully adopted.
In May last year, the municipality signed an agreement with Eskom to make monthly payments in order to service its debt. But the municipality defaulted on the agreement since October 2015.
According to Eskom the municipality owes the utility over R206 million which has been outstanding and escalating since 2011. The utility has given the municipality until 4 March 2016 to make written submissions indicating why it should not disconnect their electricity supply on 11 April 2016.
The proposed ring fencing of ratepayers’ monthly electricity payments was meant to avoid the money being used to fund the operational budget of the municipality, and instead pay Eskom.
It is unacceptable that the municipality has ignored to execute a council resolution. This is once again a clear indication that the ANC led government does not put the interest of the people first.
The municipality’s leadership has proved that it is incapable to deal with its finances resulting in poor to no service deliver to the community of Lekwa.
According to the Accountant General, as of March 2015, Mpumalanga municipalities were in arrears to Eskom (outstanding debt) to the amount of R 1.847 billion.
MEC for CoGTA, Refilwe Mtshweni must place the municipality under administration with immediate effect.
The people of Lekwa and Mpumalanga at large must realise that they have the opportunity to elect a government that delivers better services, cuts corruption and creates jobs. It is crucial for them to know that they have the power to bring about change in their communities.