Mkhize wants more time for Eskom debt report

Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Zweli Mkhize.
Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Zweli Mkhize.

Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Zweli Mkhize has written to National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete asking that his deadline for a report on how much municipalities owe Eskom be extended.

The report is meant for the Standing Committee on Public accounts.

The update pertains to the inter-ministerial task team on electricity reticulation and distribution, which Mkhize chairs.

Municipalities currently owe Eskom over R30bn, according to figures released in May this year.

In a nail-biting series of exchanges, Eskom has previously threatened to impose scheduled cut-offs to areas governed by municipalities that defaulted on their debt repeatedly.

Mkhize's letter was sent on September 12 but was published in Parliament’s circular of announcements, tabling and committees on Tuesday.

In the letter Mkhize said at the last meeting in June between the inter-ministerial task team and Scopa, it was agreed that the task team would embark on interventions and update the committee on these in September.

“The IMTT appointed an advisory panel comprising experts in the energy sector, finance and lawyers to provide advice to the task team on constitutional matters relating to electricity reticulation and distribution as well as other systemic challenges,” said Mkhize.

Mkhize said the IMTT has submitted part one of its report which will be tabled in September and that part two will be tabled during October. He requested that the IMTT address the committee after these processes were concluded.

Scopa chairperson Themba Godi told Fin24 on Tuesday that he had not seen the letter to Mbete, but expressed confidence that the committee would be open to an extension.

“I have not seen the letter yet. The office of Cape Town has been reaching out to me about it. Extensions are requested from time to time. We were happy with the minister and his latest updates on the matter. We would not be hostile to an extension request, but we would stress the urgency needed in addressing this challenge,” said Godi.

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