Municipal debt owed to Eskom stands at R25.1bn and could approach R30bn by year end, Eskom Chairperson Jabu Mabuza has warned.
Mabuza was speaking at Eskom's interim results announcements from Megawatt Park on Thursday. The results announcements showed that municipal arrear debt increased by R5.2bn from March 2019 to R25.1bn as at the end of September.
Mabuza said it is a worrying situation, especially because the growing debt is owed by new debtors. "It is not the same debtors who are owing more. The need for them to pay for services has been taken away because they continue to see their neighbours get services even when they don't pay," Mabuza said.
He said that Eskom will do whatever it can to solve the situation, this includes cutting off electricity supply and the attachment of assets, such as mayoral cars to pay off the debt.
Mabuza acknowledged that there are people in municipalities who pay for services. Eskom is finding a legal way to deal with it and is consulting with National Treasury on solutions.
Payment by municipalities has declined from 93% four years ago, to 78%. The top 20 defaulters have a payment level of 44%, according to the interim report.
Soweto's small power users alone owe R16.1bn (including interest); this after R3.6bn was written off. The payment level from Soweto is at 16%.
Eskom this week warned it would implement scheduled electricity interruptions at three municipalities in the Free State if it does not get paid, Fin24 previously reported. But on Friday it issued a statement indicating it had reached a payment agreement with Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality, which governs Bloemfontein and surrounding areas, and would not cut electricity supply, Fin24 reported.