On October 29th, at the feedback meeting held at Sabie Country Club, the Sabie Chamber of Commerce and Tourism (SCCT), once more, spoke about the challenges facing Sabie. It was clear that the Eskom debacle was given priority. SCCT had positive feedback for all in attendance regarding numerous matters.
Captain Gwilym Rees, Chairman SCCT said since October 9th, very little has changed in terms of feedback previously given by TCLM, if feedback responses occur at all. Also that Thaba Chweu Local Municipality (TCLM) has been reluctant to communicate with the Chamber and its members. The combined Chambers of Sabie, Lydenburg and Graskop decided to take the Eskom debacle to the High Court.
According to Captain Gwilym Rees, the matter was has been thrown out of the High Court on a technicality, but the Chamber’s spirits have not been broken as the matter now lies with the Constitutional Court. An appeal was lodged in the Con Court on December 6th with the Court requesting the respondents to file papers by 13th. TCLM has lodged a late application for their late filing of papers. The constitutional court has yet to decide on a hearing date. So, for now, it seems that Sabie’s power cuts will continue. A number of points were raised during the meeting. One is the option to pay Eskom directly for electricity, although it would seem that expecting lower rates may be a folly. In the case of such an event, independent meters would be installed which would be directly linked to Eskom. TCLM agreed, by Council Resolution taken on 31st October, to hand the distribution back to Eskom. This now lies with Nersa.
“To add to our endeavour it has been made clear that CoGTA would not be bailing out any Municipality. Thaba Chweu Local Municipality has now gone silent and a lot of unanswered questions remain. And no intention of answers has been made clear,” Captain Rees said. The impending Con Court action would put Sabie through its paces. When asked if Sabie could take over the municipal running of the town, Captain Rees responded that this is not possible without an Act of Parliament and due process. He further stated that it would be possible under Section 139 (c) of the Constitution, to call for the municipality to be dissolved.
Captain Rees advised that three towns in the Free State had had their electricity distribution taken over by a private company, with very good results. This had been suggested to TCLM but the municipality was averse to this. Regarding the Con Court application, the Applicants have been joined by eight more Intervening Applicants from the Madibeng area and it is hoped that this will strengthen the Sabie / Lydenburg / Graskop case and encourage others to join as well.
York Timbers has proposed a Biomass Generation Unit but to no avail, as Eskom refuses to accept more alternative energy into the grid. The people of Sabie are faced with even more questions, yet to be answered.
The next SCCT Feedback meeting is scheduled for 24th January, but they will keep community members informed of developments in the meantime.