TCLM: Not honouring commitments

Michele du Plessis

Thaba Chweu Local Municipality had been in the news lately, and not for being a well-functioning municipality, honouring their financial commitments, such as the enormous Eskom debt. The Eskom Municipal debt in Mpumalanga Province is over R3 billion and estimated at R14 billion nationally.

“Municipalities who have been granted payment arrangements are advised to adhere to their respective payment plans. Thanks once again to the well-paying municipalities for supporting our quest to supply electricity on a financially sustainable basis and setting such a good example to other entities,” says Ms Phil Khumalo, General Manager for Mpumalanga Operating Unit.

Eskom engages all municipalities on a frequent basis to discuss account payments and related challenges and solutions in an effort to avoid interruption of bulk electricity supply to those in default.

Thaba Chweu Local Municipality is part of the biggest contributors to the over R3-billion currently owed to Eskom by Mpumalanga municipalities.

Other contributors are Emalahleni- R1.458 billion, Govan Mbeki- R524 million, Lekwa- R435 million, Thaba Chweu- R408 million and Msukaligwa- R109 million. TCLM has over 61 300 Eskom customers and does not adhere to the payment arrangement. The current court interdict is all that is preventing the interruption of the power supply.

Eskom board member Sindi Mabaso-Koyana said: “It is negligent for Eskom to continue trade if it does not have the capacity to meet its obligations, and the same should be true for municipalities. The councillors and municipalities are trading illegally when they trade knowing that they cannot meet obligations.

Standing Committee on Public Accounts (South Africa) (Scopa) will also meet with the inter-ministerial task team to find a resolution. It is looking at systemic challenges such as Eskom’s credit control mechanisms for municipal bulk accounts, which are not aligned with the Local Government Municipal Financial Management Act and the Public Finance Management Act.

The task team is also looking into the need to rationalise municipal tariffs, reconciliation of municipal debt to Eskom, historical debt owed by municipalities and the unsustainability of current payment agreements with Eskom, among other issues.”

Puleng Mapheto Media Manager, TCLM, said: “The municipality of Thaba Chweu and its management committed themselves to continuously honouring Eskom account on regular basis.  Due to circumstances such as illegal connection and poor revenue collection, at times is challenging to service the debt. However, we as the municipality encourage the residence to pay their monthly services including their electricity bills. The municipality is currently installing smart electricity meter which will assist in curbing the electricity loss.”

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