Let’s pay Eskom directly

Mr Tim Denny and Ms Mariaan Chamberlain (DA councillors) are dissatisfied with the way the Govan Mbeki Municipality is handling the Eskom debt crisis.

Following further disturbing revelations about the financial crisis faced by the Govan Mbeki Municipality, the DA, as the official opposition in the area, has entered into negotiations with Cogta and Eskom in an attempt to reach an agreement.

According to Ms Tarnia Baker, DA Member of Parliament for the local area, this is one of the only solutions left to address the current crisis.

“Urgent negotiations with all stakeholders are the only way forward and by engaging with Eskom and Cogta, we can begin to work on a way forward.”

The proposed plan will entail the so-called ring fencing of money paid for electricity by residents and businesses, in an attempt to curb further irregular spending by the municipality.

Ring fencing means that there is a guarantee that certain funds will only be used for the particular purpose it was paid for.

By ring fencing the funds that the municipality receives for electricity, the DA hopes to ensure that the money can only be used to pay Eskom.

“If the money can only go to Eskom, we can begin to pay off the more than R400 million that the municipality owes them.”

Local DA councillors are working on the ground to gather support for this proposal.

“Initially we will have public participation meetings, petitions and other planned protests,” explained Mr Tim Denny.

According to him, the plan is to have a working agreement in place before the end of the year.

“Residents are fed up with the situation and have asked over and over again why they just can not pay Eskom directly, this is basically our plan now.”

At present there is legislation in place which governs municipal power supply, with the Govan Mbeki Municipality acting as middle man between residents and Eskom, and charging a fee for this service that should be used for maintenance on power infrastructure.

The proposed ring fencing will in effect take the municipality out of the equation, allowing Eskom to supply power directly, receive direct payment and be in charge of the local infrastructure.

Though this process may take some time to implement, many residents seem to be excited about the prospect of taking more control when it comes to their utility accounts.

When asked about other uses for ring fencing, Ms Mariaan Chamberlain, councillor, expressed optimism.

“If this process is successful, there is nothing stopping us from applying a similar strategy to the rest of the municipal debts.

“In future we might be able to manage water supply and payment for other services in a similar way, completely eradicating the chance of money being misused.”

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Off with the lights of everyone living and doing business in the Govan Mbeki Municipality

Willemien Aukema

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