Eskom threatens to cut power to non-paying municipalities
The power utility has given indebted municipalities until the 16th of January to make the payments, stating that no power cuts will happen until the municipalities have been given this time to pay.
Municipalities are owed R68-billion in unpaid electricity bills from consumers. This lack of payment has put municipalities under strain, which they have stated may lead to an inability in the future to keep the lights on. Eskom has put responsibility on the municipality to raise the funds to pay the power bills.
Civil rights organisations, AfriForum and AfriBusiness, took Eskom to court on Wednesday to interdict the power utility to prevent power cuts to the eight municipalities which haven’t settled their payments.
AfriForum lawyer, Willie Spies, stated that the reason for their demanding an interdict is to avoid blanket punishment, and that payment will probably not be settled regardless:
“Each and every time we went to court, but there was always intervention by either Treasury or provincial government, which undertook to settle the on behalf of the municipalities in order to continue electricity supply.
“Unfortunately it seems these municipalities still have a problem and, despite the fact that we’re busy with a more comprehensive court application that will be heard in March — where this practice of punishing everyone as a result of some — will be tested in our courts, Eskom proceeded to give notices again over the Christmas season … and as a result we have no alternative but to approach the courts ” Source: eNCA
The Northern Gauteng High Court has since dismissed the case to interdict Eskom.
Eskom has been failing to maintain the power supply for years now, only recently being able to cope due to a severe drop in electricity usage. Rational Standard commentators and many other civil society commentators have called for the parastatal to be privatised and the monopoly on power supply to be ended so that private competitors can enter the market.
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