AfriForum instructed its legal time to write a letter of demand to Eskom and the Govan Mbeki Local Municipality. This follows Eskom’s decision to continue cutting power to the Municipality if it fails to pay R50 million to the power giant.
According to Bronwen Pretorius, AfriForum’s District Coordinator for the Highveld, this is the third time since April 2019 that the Municipality has failed to adhere to the payment agreement. “Many consumers pay their electricity bills to the Municipality, but we in fact observed that this money is never paid over to Eskom. Moreover, the Municipality also receives finds from National Treasury to make provision for the electricity expenses of indigents. And yet, paying consumers are punished for the Municipality’s mismanagement.”
The Govan Mbeki Local Municipality owes more than R517 million in total. In its letter of demand, AfriForum asked among other if Eskom could justify its decision procedurally, as there had been no public participation process for this decision. Power supply to the Municipality was suspended in 2018, and municipal trucks were torched during the unrest that followed.
Hennie Bekker, AfriForum’s District Coordinator for the Lowveld, says that provincial and national government have a significant role to play cases where municipalities fail in their obligations. “It is very clear that provincial intervention should already have happened in terms of Schedule 139. If the State is serious about creating a payment culture, they should start enforcing measures on such municipalities.”