By ROD AMNER
After a long history of indebtedness, protracted court cases, and power interruptions, Eskom stakeholder management manager Nomvuzo Bisholo said the Makana Municipality had diligently adhered to the Payment Arrangement signed by both parties.
Makana’s recently released Service Delivery Report for 2016-2021 states that the R85-million owing to Eskom on 30 June 2018 had been reduced to R15-million by 31 August 2021.
Bisholo said Eskom applauded the municipality’s displayed financial integrity in committing and sticking to a debt reduction plan drawn, as agreed upon by both parties.
However, the Makana Residents’ Association chairperson, Sally Price-Smith, pointed out that a successful civil society court action had been responsible for forcing the Makana Municipality to make regular payments and reduce the Eskom debt.
“The direct threat to officials of jail for possible contempt of court has clearly been a motivating factor,” Price-Smith said.
Apart from removing the risk of Eskom cutting power to the town altogether, Price-Smith said the power utility had excluded the James Kleynhans Water Treatment Works from the load shedding schedule, enabling the one-day-on, one-day-off water supply to be sustained.
“Court action should not be necessary to force the paid administrators to do what they are renumerated well to do on our behalf.
“The elected officials should also be reminded that it is their responsibility to carry out oversight, and this kind of debt should never have accumulated when customers were paying for the electricity they received (plus 10%),” Price-Smith added.
Makana is obliged to commit to a three-year debt repayment plan servicing old and current debt. The municipality has made those payments without defaulting and penalty impositions.
Eskom’s Bisholo said rising municipal debts pose severe risks to liquidity challenges currently facing Eskom and its long-term financial sustainability.
“Eskom commends and salutes Makana’s efforts and is encouraged that this debt settlement will indeed assist and contribute to the municipality’s ability to deliver on its constitutional obligations of service delivery to their community,” Bisholo said.