State-owned power utility Eskom, led by CEO André de Ruyter, met with senior officials of the Gauteng Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) and executive mayors on Tuesday to resolve issues around the debt owed by municipalities to Eskom.
The meeting was convened by Gauteng Human Settlements, Urban Planning and CoGTA MEC Lebogang Maile following legal action taken by Eskom to attach assets of the Emfuleni local municipality to recover R2.3-billion from the municipality.
According to Maile, the meeting signaled “the beginning of much-needed coordination between government and various organs of State” to ensure a systematic, holistic approach in resolving issues that might hinder delivery of service to communities.
Subsequently, Eskom and the municipality have agreed to work closely to promote a culture of paying for services on time, starting with municipalities and moving down to communities.
This will afford Eskom an opportunity to meet its own obligations with its lenders.
In Gauteng alone, Eskom is owed more than R3.7-billion by a number of municipalities, with the exception of the Ekurhuleni metropolitan; the City of Johannesburg and the Midvaal local municipality.
The Emfuleni municipality agreed to pay Eskom R50-million by close of day on Wednesday − Eskom has subsequently confirmed receipt of the money − while the power utility agreed to suspend the seizure of Emfuleni's assets.
Eskom and the municipality will work out a feasible, sustainable and affordable payment plan for consideration by both parties, and the Emfuleni local municipality will, henceforth, pay Eskom its monthly accounts in full.
In a statement on Wednesday, Gauteng CoGTA said it would also prioritise all efforts to assist the Merafong municipality and the Rand West municipality, which have accumulated unpaid debts of R377-million and R355-million, respectively.