By Masilo Malakwane
QWAQWA – The Maluti-a-phofung local municipality council has resolved that Eskom should take over the municipality’s electricity distribution, billing and maintenance pending final approval from both parties.
Executive Mayor Gilbert Mokotso told the media on Monday, 23 May that Eskom will not loot the municipality but it will improve stability and reliability of electricity supply in the municipality, which has been plagued by service delivery protests.
“This does not mean that Eskom is depriving Maluti-a-Phofung the power to provide electricity to the community as it is expected to take over electricity distribution and billing in the area.
“I can today assure the people of Maluti-a-Phofung that after we have signed the service level agreement, the electricity crisis in our area will be a thing of the past,” said Mokotso.
There have previously been calls from different political parties within the Council that the power utility be granted an opportunity to take over control of the municipality’s electricity distribution as it owes Eskom R6.5-billion.
Opposition parties such as the Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters believe that the decision to adopt this resolution is a sustainable solution to the power crisis in the municipality.
EFF leader in the council, Chikota Mkhwanazi lauded the council for adopting this resolution, saying it was his party’s wish for quite some time.
“We support the Eskom takeover of electricity distribution and billing within the municipality as that’s what we’ve always wanted.” said Mkhwanazi.
DA’s Moshe Lefuma said “We’ve always wanted Eskom’s intervention, hence we support the council’s move to allow the power utility to take over the electricity distribution.”
Although the African National Congress supports the council resolution, it feels that Eskom should be able to recoup its R6 billion debt within three years, rather than the 15-year legal basis that is being recommended.
Party leader, Mandlenkosi Dlamini said: “We believe that in a space of five years, Eskom should be able to normalise electricity in MAP, not the 15 years that is being suggested!”
The Power utility has also agreed to take over the Maluti-a-Phofung electricity distribution, billing and maintenance. Eskom provincial Chief Marketing Officer Bibie Badier said Eskom has a number of scenarios in place to collect revenue and improve the aging electricity infrastructure network in the municipality, among others.
“As soon as the proposal is approved by both parties, Eskom will be able to recoup its debt over a period of five years, extending to 15 years with a portion of Maluti-a-Phofung electricity revenue collection service level agreement.”
She also dismissed earlier reports that Eskom will take advantage of Maluti-a-Phofung, saying it’s absolutely untrue that Eskom has intentions to make money out of the struggling municipality.
“We are here to support them to recover financially and collect the money that is owed to us,” said Badier.
On the issue of the overhaul of ailing infrastructure networks, senior manager (maintenance and operations), Lucas Mazibuko said: “before embarking on the project plan we need to asses the municipality’s problem of infrastructure. After the agreement is signed we will come back again with the cost of maintenance,” said Mazibuko.
He also confirmed that Eskom had reduced its electricity supply capacity in Maluti-a-Phofung due to non-payment of extended costs.