EC govt intervenes in Eskom's municipal debt crisis

In the meeting with Eskom, some municipalities committed to paying some of the debt overnight.

FILE: Eskom's Megawatt Park in Johannesburg. Picture: Eyewitness News.

CAPE TOWN - Eskom says it has suspended the interruption of bulk electricity supply to four Eastern Cape municipalities after the intervention of Premier Phumulo Masualle.

Provincial government facilitated a meeting between the municipalities and Eskom, which resulted in the municipalities making a partial payment to the utility and committing to a payment plan for the settlement of the remainder of the debt.

The parastatal has thanked Masualle and provincial government for their intervention.

In the meeting with Eskom, some municipalities committed to paying some of the debt overnight.

In exchange, the power utility has agreed to suspend power cuts during evening peak.

Eskom's Khulu Phasiwe says they will reassess the situation today.

"Those who have not made any payments for whatever reason, we'll interrupt them."

Phasiwe explained that municipalities will have to pay at least half of their debt and provide a clear payment plan.

The cash-strapped parastatal has for months been asking the defaulting municipalities to settle their bills.

Eskom's decision to pull the plug on the four municipalities would have effectively left the towns of Burgersdorp, Steynsburg, Aliwal North, Jansenville, Adelaide and Bedford without power.

Phasiwe says Eskom had planned cut power to the municipalities for nine hours a day at different intervals unless an agreement was reached today.

Meanwhile, the South African Local Government Association (Salga) earlier expressed its disappointment at Eskom's decision to switch off the lights for the municipalities in the Eastern Cape.

Salga's Tahir Sema said they'd previously had discussions with Eskom and National Treasury about the matter.

"We had set out a plan in which municipalities could pay Eskom. We are disappointed that these cuts are taking place. Sadly, they will affect the poorest households more than anyone else."