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.

FS ESKOM Crisis: ANC engaging in psychological terrorism

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.