Money for laptops, not Eskom

2010-10-14 00:00

WHILE 26 councillors from the Sisonke District Municipality were treated to council-funded laptops last month, many district residents found themselves without electricity yesterday when it emerged that the municipality failed to pay Eskom an outstanding bill of R37 000.

The Witness was inundated with phone calls from many frustrated residents who said the municipality must be taken to task for its failure to deliver such a basic service.

Insiders have said that Eskom warned the municipality last week that it risks having part of its electricity supply shut down if the bill is not settled, but the warning was not taken seriously.

What’s more, The Witness has learnt that parts of the district were dealt a double whammy as they also had their water supplies cut off.

Municipal manager Nhlanhla Mabaso said the municipality is in the process of settling the R37 000 owed to Eskom and the electricity was disconnected over a misunderstanding regarding the account.

He said the laptops were purchased because the municipality needs to improve its communication and reduce its costs.

“At times, the driver had to drive 120 km to deliver agendas to councillors,” he said.

Mabaso said the arrival of the laptops means that agendas and others council items can now be e-mailed to councillors, and the municipality saves a lot of money this way.

Mabaso said the municipality is attending to those areas that have had their water supplies suspended.

Eskom’s communication practitioner in the eastern region, Saras Beemiah, said the utility company will respond to the matter, but no reply had been received by the time of going to press.

In a statement yesterday, the provincial leader of the Democratic Alliance in KwaZulu-Natal, Sizwe Mchunu, expressed alarm over the matter and accused municipal officials of failing to prioritise.

“Reports that the municipality has failed to pay Eskom point to gross negligence and a clear lack of ethics,” said Mchunu.

He said the municipality needs to justify the purchase of the laptops in the light of the poor service levels.

“We warned them only last month that such frivolous expenditure would land them in hot water.”

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