The Free State Provincial Government is aware and has handled the notice that was issued by Eskom through a media statement dated 10 April 2015 with respect to the “INTERRUPTION OF BULK ELECTRICITY SUPPLY TO DEFAULTING MUNICIPALITIES”.
The position of the Free State Provincial Government is informed by the need to protect our already struggling communities from being made worse off by the hardships that will be followed by these interruptions if they were to be randomly applied without due consideration of the socio-economic impacts on the livelihoods of these communities.
The Free State Provincial Government remains committed to the letter and spirit of the Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act that provides for organs of state to ensure resolution of their disputes without resorting to the Courts.
The Free State Provincial Government is further committed to ensuring that the affected organs of state play their reasonable part in ensuring that Eskom is enabled to carry out its mandate of supplying and reliably meeting the energy needs of our people and industry.
As it is, through the Provincial Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and the Provincial Department of Treasury, the Free State Provincial Government initiated a process of negotiating an amicable resolve for the debt owed by some Free State Municipalities to Eskom through a Round-Table Discussion involving these Municipalities and Eskom with the National Departments of Treasury and Public Enterprises.
As a consequence of these Round-Table Discussions it was resolved that a mechanism that is not detrimental to service delivery obligations of municipalities must be found whilst the municipalities are servicing their current debt as well as the arrears to it.
This was made mindful of the lack of reliable tax base of some of these municipalities, to which we initiated the cleaning up of Indigent Registers and initiating campaigns for able residents to pay to the municipalities what is due for services received and consumed.
The Free State Provincial Government is aware that the National Treasury has initiated that portions of the municipality’s equitable share be used to pay for the current debt and servicing the old debt at the same time whilst not grounding these municipalities to a halt with respect to their day to day service delivery obligations.
The Free State Provincial Government remains committed to providing Municipal Support through the Provincial Departments of Treasury and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, to ensure that the capacity of our municipalities to pay, in the short term, for what is actually consumed is built and sustained.
Whilst Eskom on its part may have gone out to declare that there will be interruptions for the listed municipalities of Dihlabeng, Maluti-a-Phofung, Matjhabeng, Nala, Ngwathe, and Nketoane, it remains our confidence as the Provincial Government that the measures that we are continuing to devise will not necessitate this.
We trust that our people will find comfort in the intervention measures that we are arranging to ensure that they do not experience electricity interruptions.
The statement issued by the political opposition is unfortunate and clearly aimed at discrediting the Premier of the Province at all cost.
The motive of the statement is self-explanatory in that it positions the political party concerned in the race for 2016 Local Government Elections.
It is our view as the Provincial Government that whilst political parties have a right to say what they want to say, it must be based on fact and not seek to undermine the confidence of the people on the government of the day by peddling untruths that are not based on facts. In the process, the good work of the government to safeguard the needs of the people is deliberately overlooked.
The fact that has been communicated overtime is that the debt owed to Eskom is the direct result of the lack of reliable sources of revenue of municipalities whilst the demand for electricity and water has been expanded by the democratic government since 1994 to be accessed by all the people.
The debt is not emanating from the term of office of Premier Magashule, it is cumulative since 1994, because before 1994 this basic human right was limited to a few by the apartheid government.
Any critic of the record of service delivery must first tell us how the situation was before 1994 and what made it to be like that?
The Free State Provincial Government is working hard to ensure that all is done to sustain the provincial and municipal consumption of electricity by educating our people to consume electricity responsibly, also by generating alternative sources of energy including the unleashing of a green revolution in the form of solar energy and other sources.