Madibeng did not “come back” to Eskom over R138 million debt

Eskom has revised its final decision to interrupt the power supply to Madibeng due to the municipality’s R138 million outstanding debt. The electricity supplier states that it is waiting for its legal department to respond to the municipality’s letters before publishing the final decision.

“We did not have a discussion with Madibeng Local Municipality. We were waiting for our Legal Department to assist with responding to some legal letters received from Madibeng Local Municipality’s lawyers prior to going ahead with the revision to publish the final decision. Madibeng only enquired about the payment they should make to catch up on the payment arrangement (PA) they had with Eskom. After we gave them the amount to be paid to catch up with the PA, they never came back to us,” an Eskom spokesperson said.

Eskom published a notice in June informing Madibeng communities of its intention to interrupt the power supply on 3 July unless the municipality settles its whopping R138 million debt.

According to the notice, 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 of which Madibeng is one, on account of non-payment of electricity debt,” the notice reads.

Eskom said it recognises the hardship to consumers as a result of an indefinite disconnection and in view of this a regulated interruption, rather than an outright disconnection is being “contemplated”. According to the temporary schedule, this will mean an electricity supply interruption 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.

Madibeng responded to the situation earlier this month, saying that Eskom is not entertaining any payment arrangement from the municipality except for the debt to be paid in full. “Unfortunately the municipality does not have that kind of money at the moment. Our revenue collection is very low. So, we appeal to consumers to play their part in making the necessary payments to enable the municipality to service bulk accounts like Eskom,” municipal spokesperson Tumelo Tshabalala said.

Democratic Alliance shadow minister of water and sanitation, Leon Basson has written a letter to the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, requesting an intervention in the matter between Eskom and Madibeng by withholding the municipality’s equitable share in order to pay Eskom, as the Department of Finance has done before.