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Monday, October 26, 2020
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    GSDM involvement no magic fix in Bethal

    During a recent council meeting the Govan Mbeki Municipality {GMM) adopted a Proposal from the Gert Sibande District Municipality (GSDM) regarding the escalating Eskom problems in Bethal.

    Bethal and eMzinoni had been bearing the brunt of the outstanding Eskom debt when Eskom refused to lift the Notified Maximum Demand, plunging most of the area into darkness.

    The Bulletin reported several times about protests that took place, in eMzinoni, against the continual power cuts.

    Not only do residents have to contend with the Load Shedding from Eskom they also have to try and cope with electrical equipment and infrastructure failures. These failures are due to the ageing infrastructure and lack of maintenance from GMM.

    Cllr Thandiwe Nxgonono, Executive mayor of GMM also announced an R12m injection into the Bethal/eMzinoni infrastructure for upgrades. This will be funded by both GMM (R10m) and GSDM (R2m). It is unclear when the upgrades will begin.

    Many have seen the involvement of GSDM as a quick fix to the Bethal/eMzinoni problems.

    There are even messages stating that GMM already started to pay GSDM and that the problems will be a thing of the past at the end of July. This is not true and misleading.

    The Bulletin spoke to Opposition Leader in the GMM council, Cllr Ciska Jordaan regarding the issue. Cllr Jordaan serves on both municipalities.

    The Bulletin speaking to Cllr Ciska Jordaan on the involvement of GSDM in GMM’s Eskom problem

    Ciska explained that there are processes that must be followed and completed before anything can be achieved. One such problem is that R30m has to be paid to GSDM to be used as a gesture of goodwill by GSDM to negotiate an agreement with Eskom.

    ALSO READ: GMM budget approved, tariffs increases

    ALSO READ: eMbalenhle residents are fed up and 1 GMM employee shocked

    READ ALSO: Bethal Gripping Electrical Problems Escalated

    No deal had been proposed at the council meeting.

    Here is the resolution that was proposed and adopted.

    RECOMMENDATION

    1. That the intent of the Gert Sibande District Municipality (GSDM) to assist the Govan Mbeki Municipality to turn around the management of the electricity supply at Bethal and eMzinoni BE ACKNOWLEDGED and ACCEPTED. 

    2. That it BE ACKNOWLEDGED and ACCEPTED that the Gert Sibande District Municipality confirmed its availability and the willingness to assist with the management of the electricity distribution at Bethal and eMzinoni for a period of 5 years starting from July 2020. 

    3. That the Gert Sibande District Municipality BE APPOINTED as Implementing Agent (IA) and that a Service Level Agreement be entered into between the two municipalities within seven days after the appointment is concluded.

    4. That the electricity affairs of Bethal and eMzinoni BE RING-FENCED for the Gert Sibande District Municipality to appoint a service provider at their risk to inject capital funding and turn around the electricity business. 

    5. That the Gert Sibande District Municipality CONSIDER the recommendations by NERSA, the master plan that was compiled by SASOL and any other financial and technical advises and records available when compiling the terms of reference of the service provider to be appointed. 

    6. That this intervention by the Gert Sibande District Municipality BE TREATED as a pilot and should it produces the expected improvement, it be extended to other two regions within the jurisdiction of the municipality. 

    7. That the municipality RAISE the bridging finance that would be negotiated by Gert Sibande District Municipality with Eskom to ensure that the business operations are not affected while waiting for the long-term financing option to be finalized through the bidding process.

    Please note point seven of the resolution taken. This point clearly states that there are still negotiations that need to be finalised.

    Ciska also explained the continual pressure and actions that the DA has taken concerning the Eskom problem in GMM. “The Eskom issue has been fought on many fronts during the past few years. We have tried in our council, only to be overturned every time with the ANC majority. The issue was then escalated to the provincial legislature but that brought no results. It is now on the table of Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. So far, we had no response from her, although the deadline past already.”

    GSDM ivolvement no quick fix
    Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

    The Democratic Alliance (DA) has continually made suggestions and proposals in the Council to address the problem to no avail. The ANC led majority refuses to allow any suggestion, proposal, or motion to be accepted when it does not originate from within their own ranks”, Said Cllr Ciska Jordaan, Caucus leader of the DA in GMM.

    The Eskom debt slowly grew from approximately R100m in 2011 to R524m in 2018. The Bulletin placed an article on July 6, 2018, quoting James Masangu stating the R524m debt. GMM took 7 years to grow that debt from R100m to R524m, it took only another two years to increase the debt to a staggering R1,9B.

    Embalenhle have been asking for a long time to pay Eskom direct and after the Riots where Emba mall was nearly destroyed, they were promised that their power supply will be transferred to Eskom. This promise was made by the premier when he visited the area at the time.

    Eskom refused to do this due to the outstanding GMM debt.

    Only time will tell if the current interventions by GSDM will be successful. 

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    GSDM involvement no magic fix in Bethal