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Wednesday, September 23, 2020
16.1 C

    Festive lights might not be so bright!

    December could be dark days indeed!

    Eskom gave notice of planned power interruptions to the Govan Mbeki Municipality for failure to pay their spiralling debt. The notice by Eskom states: “The Municipality has failed to honour the repayment plan agreement entered into on 21 September 2018, followed by a meeting held on 8 October 2018 in Nelspruit. The interruption will resume on Friday, 7 December 2018.”
    The Mayoral committee led by Mayor Nxgonono, has repeatedly stated that the Eskom account is under control and that they are honouring all agreements. The Mayor and her team have also obtained a Court Interdict without the approval of the full council to stop the interruptions.
    The eventual effect is that payments to Eskom ground to a halt. There have been no payments to Eskom since the interdict, according to a source in Eskom. This is in spite of all the assurances that Mayor Thandi Nxgonono gave the council to the contrary. The claims of “no payment to Eskom” could however not be confirmed at the time of writing this article.
    The notice by Eskom further states: “Govan Mbeki Local Municipality is currently indebted to Eskom to the amount of R858 394 464,49 (eight hundred and fifty-eight million three hundred and ninety-four thousand four hundred and sixty-four rand and forty-nine cents) for bulk electricity supply, part of which has been outstanding and in escalation since December 2003 (“the electricity debt”).”
    The following statement comes directly from the Eskom website:
    “The public notices in the local newspapers give ordinary citizens and the business community the opportunity to provide input to Eskom, but also to engage their municipality on why it is not paying the Eskom account. Interruption of supply to municipalities is an action of last resort and only implemented after all other mechanisms have been exhausted and have failed to deliver the required outcomes.
    Eskom is sensitive to the impact that this will have on the economy, local business, and the public at large and, for this reason, has extensively engaged with stakeholders, affected parties, the media, and others to the build-up of this.
    Eskom understands the impact that its actions will have on members of the public (individual and/or business), and as such, we plan to focus on implementing interruptions rather than complete disconnection.”
    Eskom follows the PAJA process before it can interrupt supply to the affected municipalities. This process can be summarised as follows:
    The electricity supply agreement (ESA) between Eskom and the municipalities stipulates that the monthly account becomes due as soon as the municipality receives the invoice.
    Should the municipality fail to pay the account within 30 days of the account becoming due, Eskom may disconnect the supply to the municipality after Eskom has given the municipality 14 days’ written notice.
    Eskom needs to follow a public consultation process before it can disconnect the municipality.
    The process starts with Eskom issuing a written notice of intent to the municipality.
    Should the municipality fail to correct the breach within this period or make alternative arrangements, Eskom will issue a public notice in the local newspapers in two of the official languages spoken in the affected area.
    The public notice provides details of Eskom’s intent to disconnect the municipality for non-payment and invites interested and affected parties to submit comments/reasons to Eskom as to why Eskom should not continue with the disconnection.
    The following municipal areas will be affected by the contemplated interruption and/or disconnection, except those directly supplied by Eskom.
    • Secunda Town • Embalenhle Township • Bethal Town • Emzinoni Township.
    A source within the ANC told the Bulletin that there are talks that the minister would intervene in the ongoing Eskom crisis. This is also not confirmed and government agencies are quiet about the possible intervention.
    Opposition parties have been calling for intervention by the provincial government but to no avail. The MEC has denied such requests over and over again even though there is a growing call for intervention by opposition parties and residents alike.
    A few months back eMbalenhle councillors withdrew from council resulting in an unapproved budget at the time. The premier had to intervene and instructed the councillors to approve the budget. She also made a lot of promises, including that GMM will relinquish the supply of electricity back to Eskom.
    This intervention only came after the residents of eMbalenhle staged unprecedented protests actions against the municipality. The municipal buildings as well as the post office in eMbalenhle were lost in fires started by disgruntled residents. Half of Emba mall was also lost in the fires.
    The so-called G9 councillors (disgruntled eMbalenhle councillors) recently held a press statement stating that only two of their problems were addressed.
    They have not indicated a way forward yet but wanted to start the process of voicing their dissatisfaction. This could be the start of another wave of violent protests as residents are increasingly disillusioned by the lack of commitment from the ANC councillors.
    December could be dark days indeed!

    Festive lights might not be so bright!