Michele du Plessis
With the newest feedback from Thaba Chweu Local Municipality and Eskom, the two press releases contradict each other in no uncertain terms.
The press release from TCLM: “Thaba Chweu Local Municipality had a joint meeting with the Office of the Premier, COGTA, Provincial Treasury and Eskom to engage robustly on the ongoing power interruption; however the discussions did not yield any positive results as the power utility maintains its stance on load-shedding the municipality. The above outcome affects all Mpumalanga municipalities that owe Eskom.
Our consumers must bear in mind that in order to unlock any agreement with Eskom, an amount of R 79.6 million must be paid to the power utility before they can suspend the power interruption. The municipality successfully managed to negotiate with power giant not to effect more hours of load shedding than the current schedule.
The Municipality would like to urge with the community and stakeholders to continue paying for their services, we further advice those who have bridged electricity to refrain from these activities because we are already incurring losses of electricity.
The Municipality will appreciate cooperation and understanding from all our clients and stakeholders at these trying times.”
The press release from Eskom: “Eskom increases duration of supply interruption to Thaba Chweu Local Municipality
Eskom will be increasing the duration of supply interruptions to the Thaba Chweu Local Municipality (TCLM) by two (2) hours per day, effective from 25 October 2017.
Engagements between Eskom and TCLM did not result in an acceptable payment or payment agreement.
The contemplated interruption of electricity supply will result in temporary scheduled disconnection at the following times:
Monday to Friday Saturday and Sunday
06h00 – 09h00 08h30 – 12h00
17h00 – 20h30 15h00 – 18h30
The supply points to be affected are Lydenburg Town, Mashishing and Sabie Town.
Eskom reiterates that the increase of the duration of interruptions is considered as a last measure to recover bad debt. Eskom continues to engage the municipality on this matter.”
“Let us meet tomorrow at 10 midmorning and I will bring feedback. I’m going to meet the director today to settle the matter; we have already paid R 15,5 million on October 6th. Concerning electricity, it is going to be fine on Monday (referring Monday, October 23) so let us stops the fight,” said TCLM Mayor Selina Mashigo-Sekgobela. A delegation was sent to Lydenburg to go and get the answers that the community needed. Upon arrival to get the documents from Eskom addressed to TCLM, the letter stated that Thaba Chweu only paid R 4,4 million and not the R 15,5 million as claimed by Mashigo-Sekgobela.
With information such as the above, it is clear why the community of Sabie and the traditional leaders wants to bring a vote of “no confidence” in against Mashigo-Sekgobela.
*Eskom required an amount of R97 million from TCLM. At the meeting held in Lydenburg on October 6th by the Combined Chambers of Sabie, Graskop and Lydenburg, the Municipal Manager, Mr Kgoale, stated that Eskom wanted between R 15 to R17 million to prevent load-shedding. The information divulged by TCLM was not the truth. Captain Gwilym Rees, Chairman of the Sabie Chamber of Commerce and Tourist, displayed anger at the meeting held on October 13th, saying that there has been a breakdown of trust between TCLM and their constituents by telling lies.
It is clear from the reports received that TCLM does not believe in transparency and did not reveal all the facts pertaining to the Eskom debt. COGTA, however, is aware of the mismanagement of Thaba Chweu, but this will be discussed later. (*Information from the Minutes f the meeting held on October 20th at the Riverside Government Complex between Sabie Action Group and H.O.D. of COGTA.)