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Raymond Mhlaba Municipality engaging Eskom over historical debt and power cuts

Sep 13, 2017
Raymond Mhlaba Municipality engaging Eskom over historical debt and power cuts

The Raymond Mhlaba Local Municipality is engaging with power utility, Eskom, to find a mutually beneficial agreement over electricity supply interruptions to the municipality that resulted from a historical debt that it inherited.

The municipality came about as a result of the amalgamation of the former Nkonkobe and Nxuba local municipalities after the 2016 Local Government Elections - with all concomitant challenges expected to be met by a new local government. Thus, Eskom also became a major creditor to the new municipality.

According to Raymond Mhlaba Local Municipality Executive Mayor, Bandile Ketelo, "The debt is historic and mostly inherited from Nxuba municipality. This debt was in all probability a driver in the merger decision, in an attempt to establish good governance and financial viability."

Mayor Ketelo said that the municipality is keenly aware of the challenge; that the municipality is keen to address the debt in a responsible manner; and that the municipality is obligated to find a solution acceptable to Eskom, yet one serving the needs of the residents and ratepayers depending on the municipality for continuous basic service delivery.

"I, as mayor, with senior representatives of the municipality have been in close communication with Eskom representatives over the last few days, and remain in conversation in order to determine a mutually beneficial and generally acceptable solution to the current threat of power interruption," he added.

"Eskom has extended the term of its threat to cut power to our towns and communities, to Friday, but a threat remains and the threat does not serve a solution; does not invite and encourage and foster a mutually beneficial commercial relationship.

"Upon a vigorous application of minds the municipality has presented three solemn payment options to Eskom."

Mayor Ketelo said that these undertakings serve the municipality’s "trenchant intent" to come to terms with Eskom, and also serve the municipality’s responsibility to the people of Raymond Mhlaba, which must remain a priority.

"Eskom, however, has not warmed to any current offers to remedy the problem. A meeting earlier on Wednesday again failed to have Eskom accept any of the municipality’s offers," he described.

"I have now engaged provincial functionaries, and specifically provincial treasury, and have secured the commitment of the MEC’s for finance and local government, to join me in meeting with senior Eskom officials on Thursday in yet another attempt to secure a meeting of minds.

"I cannot allow Eskom to assume responsibility for electricity sales, and for payment receipts in Raymond Mhlaba. Eskom’s administrative decision will be reviewed if a mutually acceptable solution cannot be found by Friday.

"I sincerely hope, and I trust to Eskom’s goodwill, that the municipality’s transparency and intent serve to assure all parties that the present problem is taken on with all energy, with a view to settle obligations without the encumbrance of power cuts to industry, business, agriculture and households; and also without intervention in the management of the municipality’s service delivery."