by Andrew Louw – DA Provincial Leader in the Northern Cape
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Date: 05 July 2018
The DA is concerned that the Northern Cape is heading for a full scale blackout following provincial and local government’s dire failure to ensure that municipalities are paying Eskom their dues.
Khâi-Ma and Gamagara are the latest municipalities threatened with escalated load shedding after 12 July, if payment is not made. Load shedding meanwhile commenced in Renosterberg yesterday after no payment from the municipality was received by Eskom from 27 June. Power cuts in Emthanjeni and Kai !Garib were also narrowly averted after last minute payments were made.
It is unacceptable that the lack of electricity provision boils down to the mismanagement of municipal funds.
At the last known date, municipalities in the Northern Cape owed Eskom over R840 million, with Kai !Garib leading the pack, owing over R126 million.
According to a reply to a parliamentary question by Coghsta, 10 municipalities in the province have signed payment agreements with Eskom, while six municipalities have unsigned agreements with Eskom. Coghsta has further indicated that in conjunction with Provincial Treasury, they have established a Municipal Debt Steering Committee to deal with the issues of outstanding debt owed by municipalities to their creditors.
The DA, however, fails to see any results from these initiatives. Payment agreements, signed or unsigned, will mean nothing as long they are not taken seriously, not included in long term financial planning and not implemented.
The ongoing last minute bailouts of municipalities by Coghsta, is also not sustainable and will not serve to keep the lights on.
Aside from debt owed to Eskom, municipalities in the Northern Cape also owe water boards at least R148 million, the Auditor General over R16 million and the Northern Cape Department of Transport, Safety and Liaison over R139 million.
It is clear that the ANC doesn’t have a plan to resolve outstanding debt owed to creditors by municipalities nor the political will to keep the lights on.
Only change under a DA-led government will ensure that residents of the Northern Cape can enjoy uninterrupted electricity supply and quality services across the province.