Madibeng’s electricity supply from Eskom will be cut in two weeks unless the municipality settles its debt of R138. But the municipality is vague about negotiations to pay off the debt, or if in fact they will be able to pay it.
Eskom announced in May that the electricity supply to Madibeng will be cut on 3 July unless the municipality settles its debt of R138 463 908.16. After weeks of asking the municipality what the situation is, Madibeng finally responded with a mere “talks with Eskom is ongoing”. No other detailes were forthcoming.
According to a notice published by Eskom in May, part of the debt has been outstanding since May 2019. “Madibeng Local Municipality’s breach of its payment obligation to Eskom undermines and placed in jeopardy Eskom’s ability to continue the national supply of electricity on a financial sustainable basis. Eskom is entitled to disconnect the supply of electricity of defaulting municipalities” the notice reads.
Eskom said rather than an outright disconnection the electricity supply will be interrupted for four to five hours every day. However, the electricity supplier said that it reserves the right to totally disconnect the supply should the debt situation not improve. This will affect Brits and large areas around the town.
Democratic Alliance shadow minister of water and sanitation, Leon Basson has written an urgent letter to the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, inlast month, requesting an intervention by withholding the municipality’s equitable share in order to pay Eskom. The Department of Finance has done this before.
Basson said in his letter that Madibeng is the largest industrial town in North West and a cut in electricity will negatively impact the motor manufacturing industry in South Africa. It could result in factories closing and a large amount of job losses.
“We are already experiencing difficulty with the Covid-19 lockdown and a further electricity cut will be devastating to the economy of Madibeng,” Basson said. “The minister, is hereby requested to intervene and withhold the equitable share and pay Eskom. The situation in Madibeng is currently volatile and needs intervention urgently.”