AfriForum wants Eskom to make municipalities’ arrears arrangements public
TMG Digital | 2017-01-25 11:55:31.0
AfriForum has made a Paia act application for the agreements between Eskom and municipalities whose bills are in arrears. Photo file.
Image by: Dean Hutton
AfriForum wants the “agreements between Eskom and the municipalities in arrears be made public in order to prevent the electricity of several towns being cut”.
The group’s local government coordinator‚ Morné Mostert‚ said it had made a Promotion of Access to Information Act application as it wants “to determine if these agreements benefit the community and it is the community’s right to know what is contained therein”.
It also wants to know “what the debt levels are of all municipalities in arrears”‚ as this would put communities “in the position to launch legal actions against the involved municipalities”.
Mostert also said AfriForum had “created a legal fund where the public can make a specific contribution to the Eskom legal battle‚ which is aimed at calling municipalities to order”.
On January 5‚ the North Gauteng High Court dismissed an application by AfriForum to prevent Eskom from cutting off supply to municipalities.
The court ruled that Eskom has a statutory and regulatory right to disrupt supply in the event of nonpayment by a customer.
Eskom‚ however‚ suspended planned supply interruptions to some defaulting municipalities after reaching payment agreements with them‚ but proceeded with some in the North West and Northern Cape.
Mostert said AfriForum “further welcomes Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown’s request that Eskom delays cutting off municipalities who still owe money”‚ but vowed to “proceed with litigation where necessary”.
Brown had late last week urged power utility Eskom to afford errand municipalities until the end of January to pay their arrears before switching off the lights. “Turning off the power supply does not only impact on individual ratepayers and municipalities‚ it has potentially disastrous effects on businesses‚ and therefore jobs‚” she said.
Her plea came after South Africa’s biggest state entity said earlier this month that municipalities in various provinces owe it over R10.2-billion – and need to pay up before January 16 or they will be cut off.