CAPE TOWN, South Africa, June 15, 2018,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) today met with the top 10 municipalities that are owing Eskom about R10 billion of the R13 billion electricity debt that is owed by municipalities to Eskom.
This meeting stems from a meeting Scopa had with Eskom, Salga (South African Local Government Association) and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs on this issue on 15 May 2018. Scopa felt the need to meet with the top 10 municipalities who are failing in this regard before its meeting with the Inter-Ministerial Task Team tomorrow on the very same issue. Scopa wanted to understand the challenges that are faced by municipalities which are causing the municipalities to fail to settle their debt.
Municipalities raised several challenges, including the challenge of illegal connections in communities, high unemployment rate which leads to people not able to pay the municipality while the municipality continues to provide electricity, ageing infrastructure and debt collectors who are overcharging municipalities. Municipalities have also raised challenges of not being assisted by police when they report cases of these illegal connections by people who seem to be operating like gangsters, who have weapons and are a danger to municipal officials.
Scopa has been informed that due to the fact that these municipalities are involved in court battles with Eskom, big businesses in those areas have made arrangements to pay Eskom directly to avoid being affected. This has also impacted municipalities negatively in terms of revenue collection and they depend on businesses as well for profits from the revenue they collect.
Scopa has, however, told the municipalities that it needs to recommit to paying Eskom as Eskom is a state-owned entity that contributes to the economy of this country. Scopa has also raised issues of contravention of supply chain management processes, which has led to financial mismanagement in most of these municipalities that are in the top 10. Scopa has also encouraged these municipalities to engage with Eskom on making payment arrangements on the debt.
Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.