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Free State municipalities owe Eskom R16 billion

Staff Reporter

Eskom says failure by several Free State municipalities to settle their debts for bulk electricity supplies on time is making it difficult for the national power utility to deliver services to the province.

A statement released by Eskom on Monday says 16 Free State municipalities, including Mangaung Metropolitan, owe Eskom R16 billion for services rendered, as at the end of February 2022.

Eskom says although the municipalities receive government grants as well as payment for services rendered from their customers, the amount remains unpaid for the consumed energy.

Eskom general manager for the central-east cluster – KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State – Agnes Mlambo said this situation threatens the security of supply to the citizens residing in these areas, as the power utility cannot continue to maintain its infrastructure and supply electricity for free.

“Municipalities have a constitutional responsibility and duty, not only to Eskom but to their customers, to fulfil their financial obligations for the bulk supply of electricity so that Eskom can in turn meet its obligations,” said Mlambo.

Eskom supplies electricity monthly in bulk to the municipalities which is re- distributed and consumed.

“The total outstanding municipal debt of R16 billion in the Free State continues to threaten Eskom’s commitment to ensure continuity of supply and the ability to maintain the network . . . municipal debt puts immense burden on Eskom’s revenue stream, which negatively affects service delivery,” she added.

The top three municipalities consume an average of 97 gigawatt hours (GWh) at a cost of R200 million per month.

To date these municipalities have increased their debt to Eskom to R12.5 billion.

Collectively this accounts for 78 percent of the overdue debt in the province.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) MEC Mxolisi Dukwana has criticised senior officials in some municipalities for allowing “personal interests” to stand in the way of service delivery.

Dukwana said this on Monday during a presentation before a CoGTA select committee made up of members of parliament and the National Council of Provinces who are on a week-long visit to the Free State.

The MEC has in the past said he wants to promote ethical leadership in the local authorities so they can serve the people better.

Here are the defaulting Free State municipalities, ranked in order of debt owed to Eskom: Maluti-a-Phofung, Matjhabeng, Ngwathe, Nketoana, Phumelela, Mafube, Nala, Mantsopa, Masilonyana, Tokologo, Dihlabeng, Moqhaka, Tswelopele, Setsoto, Letsemeng, Mangaung.

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