“If they honour this, there won’t be any interest charged on outstanding debt and the municipality will save millions”
ESKOM has suspended plans to discontinue the electricity supply interruptions at Emthanjeni Municipality as intended on March 3 after a sufficient payment was made and a payment agreement was submitted.
The electricity interruptions would have affected De Aar, Britstown and Hanover, where the power would be cut for 14 hours per day.
Eskom stated that it would closely monitor adherence to the payment agreement.
DA spokesperson for Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (Coghtsa) Grantham Steenkamp said Eskom is believed to have reduced the initial demand owed by Emthanjeni Municipality, for a minimum payment of just over R19 million.
He added that Eskom agreed not to charge interest on the outstanding amount of R147 million that was owed by Tsantsabane Municipality.
Eskom also suspended bulk electricity disconnections after a payment agreement was reached on February 28.
Steenkamp said that in terms of the agreement, Tsantsabane Municipality would have to pay back the current account that varied between R2.5 million and R2.9 million per month plus an additional R1 million on the outstanding debt.
“If they honour this, there won’t be any interest charged on outstanding debt and the municipality will save millions.
“In the case of Emthanjeni, Eskom is also believed to have reduced the initial demands to a minimum payment of just over R19 million, of which a portion was paid over by the municipality.
“In both cases, the municipalities are saving costs and should consider themselves lucky, as Eskom could have gone the other way and simply implemented untold hours worth of punitive load shedding without entering into new deals.”
He was, however, concerned that this was not the first time that these two municipalities had entered into payment agreements with Eskom.
“Nor is it the first time that they have defaulted on such payment agreements. The question that must therefore be asked is what will be done differently this time around to ensure that these institutions abide by the payment agreements?”
He believed that the Department of Coghsta should urgently lend support to these municipalities, to ensure that funds intended for Eskom were ring-fenced.
“Payments to Eskom must be processed uninterrupted in the future.”