Urgent intervention needed in Dr Beyers Naude following bulk electricity disruptions

Issued by Vicky Knoetze, MPL
Shadow MEC for COGTA

Residents in the Dr Beyers Naude Local Municipality are furious and feel that they have been thrown to the wolves, as they are yet again being punished for the failures of their uncaring municipality.

Effective from today Willowmore, Steytlerville and Jansenville are currently without electricity, with Eskom cutting the power for eight and a half hours a day, because the Municipality has failed to honour the last repayment plan agreed to.

If the matter is not resolved, by this time next week, the disruptions will escalate to 14 hours a day!

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has written to the MEC of COGTA, Xolile Nqatha to urgently intervene and assist in the Dr Beyers Naude Municipality. The municipality reached an agreement with Eskom for repayment of their debt, which now stands at approximately R 130 million, in 2019.

Download: letter

Residents of the town are baring the brunt of maladministration by the municipality. Businesses are facing significant losses as they will either be forced to close their doors, or spend significant sums of money on alternatives, such as generators and the fuel to run them.

Residents lives are also being severely disrupted, children are unable to attend schools, hospitals and clinics may not be able to operate, and simple things such as the safe storage of perishable foodstuffs in a refrigerator are no longer viable options.

These power cuts will have a drastic impact on residents’ basic human rights, as water to all three towns is supplied from boreholes, which rely on electrical pumps. Sewerage will also be impacted as the pumps utilised for this are also electrical.

It is fundamentally unfair to punish the residents of this municipality for the failures of the administration to pay Eskom, and allowing the debt owed to Eskom to run into millions.

According to a statement by the DBNM, they are planning to go to court on Thursday 29 October 2020 against Eskom regarding this matter. However, by that time the residents would have been without electricity and water for a week.

This is indicative of a complete lack of urgency on the part of the municipality. In this instance and application must be made for an urgent interdict.

The DA has requested that MEC Nqatha urgently intervene and assist, in this instance, to put a workable plan on the table regarding the re-payment of debt to Eskom and prevent any further bulk electricity disruptions.

We have also asked that the Department launch an investigation into the finances of the municipality, to determine why the money collected for electricity is not being paid to Eskom, and what it is being spent on instead.

The DA has also called for the suspension of the Municipal Manager and the acting Chief Financial Officer , due to their continuous failure to make payments to Eskom, and for their failure to adhere to the payment agreement that came into effect in 2019.

A special COGTA meeting must be arranged urgently between COGTA and Provincial Treasury, to discuss a plan of action regarding this and other municipalities that may also face bulk electricity interruptions.

The DA will continue to fight for accountability, good financial governance and the rights of those unfairly affected by the actions of their municipalities. This is what is expected for a capable government that prioritises the delivery of services to communities.

Note to editors, You can download sound clips in English and Afrikaans from Vicky Knoetze, MPL.