Three cash-strapped Free State municipalities hugely indebted to Eskom are not out of the woods yet despite payments towards their huge debts. The three municipalities, Tokologo, Masilonyana and Nala, still must pay huge amounts to settle their respective debts to the power supplier.Authorities of these embattled municipalities made payment on Tuesday, 26 June, just in time to avoid interruption of bulk power supply. The power supplier was due to implement interruption on bulk power supply on the day in question after these municipalities had breached repayment agreements signed with Eskom for the bulk supply of electricity. Interruptions of power supply to the three ANC-governed municipalities were suspended to allow authorities of the respective municipalities to pay outstanding balances.Bibi Bedir, Eskom’s provincial senior manager of customer service, said the municipalities had made sufficient payments to avert interruption in power supply. However, she said the municipalities had until 13 July to make payments on their balances. “Should these municipalities not pay the next instalments by the due date, 13 July 2018, scheduled supply interruptions will take place, starting on 18 July, and continue until 25 July,” said Bedir. She said Eskom had resolved to closely monitor payments by these municipalities and would immediately institute corrective action at the first signs of default. “This is to ensure these municipalities adhere to the conditions of their payment agreements with Eskom. “Notwithstanding the above proposed indicative times for the interruption of electricity supply, Eskom may, upon 15 calendar days’ notice, serve the right to disconnect electricity entirely and indefinitely, should the electricity debt situation not improve,” said Bedir.Nala (which services Bothaville and Wesselsbron), Masilonyana (Theunissen, Brandfort, Verkeerdevlei and Winburg) and Tokologo (Boshof, Dealesville and Hertzogville) are municipalities that are part of the nine in the Free State classified as dysfunctional, and are among the 87 nationally placed under ministerial intervention by the minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Dr Zweli Mkhize.Financially in the red, the nine municipalities have been facing the interruption of bulk power supply due to huge debts worth millions. The debt of these municipalities was as follows: Tokologo – R36 464 659,52; Masilonyana – R48 521 535,27; Nala – R180 972 200,62; Nketoana – R163 935 774,35; Maluti-A-Phofung – R2 627 895 261,10; Matjhabeng – R1 742 710 459,06; and Dihlabeng – R192 972 097,83. According to Ratings Afrika’s statistics on the Municipal Financial Sustainability Index released in May, Maluti-A-Phofung and the Matjhabeng are classified among the ten worst municipalities in South Africa, with the Free State the worst performer nationally since the 2013-’14 financial year.