The Emfuleni municipality (Vanderbiljpark, Vereeniging, Evaton, Sebokeng and Vaal Oewer) has warned that basic services will be disrupted after some of its furniture and vehicles were seized to repay unpaid debt owed to Eskom.
Emfuleni owes Eskom R2.3 billion, says Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha. In 2018, a court judgment ruled that Eskom could recover R615 million in this debt from the municipality. Eskom has issued another summons to collect the balance.
In a statement, the municipality said the seizure of its assets would lead to backlogs in the delivery of basic services.
The municipality says that it has made regular monthly payments to Eskom of R1.6 billion in 2018 and 2019, and so far this year has paid almost another R1 billion.
It is trying to sign an interest free re-payment agreement with Eskom, as it is currently struggling with an interest burden of R368 million on its Eskom debt.
"In November 2019, the Emfuleni Local Municipality submitted a debt re-payment plan, which Eskom has to date not responded to," the municipality said.
A contributing factor to Emfuleni’s big debts was Vanderbijlpark’s 1987 decision to grant large power users in the area much cheaper electricity tariffs.
Emfuleni generates more than 60% of its revenue from electricity tariffs, most of which is collected from these large companies.
Some of these companies are now paying Eskom directly – at far lower tariffs than the municipality is charging. This has added to Emfuleni's precarious financial position.