Eskom, led by its group chief executive, André de Ruyter, recently met with senior officials of the Department of Gauteng’s Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) and executive mayors, led by MEC Lebogang Maile, at the Gauteng Legislature in Johannesburg.
The meeting was convened by MEC Maile following legal action taken by Eskom to attach assets of the Emfuleni Local Municipality to recover from the municipality unpaid R2.3 billion in debt due to Eskom.
The meeting was also attended by the Mayors and MMCs of all municipalities within the Gauteng City Region (GCR).
According to MEC Maile: “The meeting signalled the beginning of the much-needed coordination between government and various organs of state to ensure a systematic, holistic approach in resolving issues that might hinder delivery of services to communities”.
Both parties collectively agreed to work closely in promoting a culture of paying for services on time, starting from municipalities and down to communities. This will accord Eskom, which faces considerable financial constraints, an opportunity to meet its own obligations with its lenders.
In Gauteng alone, Eskom is owed R3.77 billion by a number of municipalities, with the exception of Ekurhuleni Metropolitan; City of Johannesburg and Midvaal Local Municipality.
CoGTA affirmed to prioritise all efforts in assisting the Merafong Municipality and the Rand West Municipality who have accumulated unpaid debts of R377 million and R355 million respectively.
Both parties agreed to work together in assisting the two municipalities to meet their payment obligations.
At the end of the meeting, Emfuleni Local Municipality committed to paying R50 million owed to Eskom and the power utility has confirmed that it has received the payment as agreed.
Following the receipt of payment, the utility will suspend the seizure of assets.
Joint teams will work out a feasible, sustainable and affordable payment plan for consideration by both parties;
Emfuleni Local Municipality will henceforth pay Eskom its monthly accounts in full.
Other matters were deferred to a broader meeting that will be convened in a month’s time wherein progress will be tracked and reflected upon.