Eskom CEO and Cogta MEC Maile to devise plan to solve Emfuleni municipality's R615m debt

Lebogang Maile.
Lebogang Maile.
Zamokuhle Mdluli

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) MEC Lebogang Maile has taken over the finances of the Emfuleni municipality after a seizure of its assets by power utility Eskom last week. 

Maile on Tuesday held meetings with Eskom executives, including CEO Andre de Ruyter, and 11 Gauteng municipal mayors to discuss debt repayment arrangements, electricity challenges and overcoming bottlenecks with the power utility.

READ | Senior Emfuleni municipal officials face the axe over Eskom debt

Cogta made an arrangement with Eskom to suspend the attachment of the Emfuleni municipal assets upon receipt of a R50 million payment. 

Last week, a sheriff of the High Court seized furniture and vehicles to recoup R615 million of Eskom's unpaid debt.

Emfuleni owes Eskom R1.8 billion.

Seizures

To stop the seizures, Emfuleni filed an urgent application with the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Thursday. This was struck off the roll with costs.

READ | DA wants Emfuleni under administration for its R2.3bn Eskom debt

Eskom then continued with the seizures on Monday, looking to attach more assets if the municipality failed to pay R220 million of its debt.

The attachments led to the suspension of two high-ranking officials, including the municipality's chief financial officer Andile Dyakala.

His suspension was immediately lifted, although Maile was unable to explain the reasons to the media on Tuesday. He just said he was not involved with the affairs of the municipality. 

On Friday, he had told journalists that the two officials had misled the council on payment arrangements with Eskom. 

Other municipalities 

Maile said Cogta would take a keen interest in how the municipality was handling its finances. 

"We will in the next two weeks, the CEO (De Ruyter) and I, receive a plan that in our view must be fair, must be affordable, must be sustainable.

"We are also aware that there are two other municipalities on the verge of a crisis - Merafong and West Rand [District] municipality. We are going to treat them like we do Emfuleni. We will not wait until there is a crisis." 

The West Rand District municipality owes Eskom R355 million and Merafong is R377 million in debt.

All 11 municipalities owe Eskom R2.6 billion, with the Emfuleni municipality holding the bulk of the debt.  The municipality is currently under administration as per Section 139 (1b) of the Constitution. 

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