Lights to remain on

2017-01-18 06:02
DA members Patricia Kopane and David Ross during a media briefing on Monday (16/01). Photo: Mlungisi Louw

DA members Patricia Kopane and David Ross during a media briefing on Monday (16/01). Photo: Mlungisi Louw

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The seven Free State municipalities owing huge debts to Eskom have been saved from having their supply of electricity interrupted.

Apparently, this follows intervention by the Free State government director general, Kopung Ralikontsane, on Monday (16/01).

The Free State MEC of Finance, Elzabe Rockman, also confirmed that the power utility would not suspend electricity in any of the seven defaulting municipalities in the province. Five municipalities have entered into agreements with Eskom to avoid any power cuts and interruption of supply.

However, on Monday afternoon, the parastatal announced power interruptions towards Dihlabeng and Masilonyana municipalities due to non-payment.

Dihlabeng, governing seven towns, reportedly owes Eskom R106 million, while Masilonyana, governing four towns, owes R39,9 million. Eskom stated that authorities of the two municipalities had failed to make the needed cash payment as negotiated and did not submit a payment plan for the arears, as supported by a council resolution.

Eskom’s interruption of power has caused a huge outcry, with political parties in the Free State calling on the national government to take stringent measures against defaulting municipalities.

David Ross, DA member of parliament, has called on the national treasury to apply Section 216(2) of the constitution and stop the transfer of funds to defaulting municipalities as a last resort. Ross argued that funds should be released on condition that the Eskom debt is paid.

Patricia Kopane, DA leader in the Free State, said consequent management and sound financial management should be effected in all spheres of government.

“The DA will be calling for the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) to investigate defaulting municipalities,” she said.

Pieter Groenewald, FF Plus leader, said the salaries of mayors and municipal managers should be suspended for every month that load shedding is enforced.

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