Free State municipality is Eskom’s top debtor

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PHOTO: OFM News

The Qwaqwa-based Maluti-a-Phofung Municipality in the Free State happens to be the power utility Eskom’s top debtor in South Africa.

According to data sourced from the utility, Maluti-a-Phofung owes approximately R7 billion to Eskom, followed by the Emalahleni municipality in Mpumalanga, also with R7 billion.

In the Free State, the Matjhabeng Local Municipality, which renders services to Welkom and other towns, is the second worst municipality in the province – indebted to Eskom with R5 billion. The Ngwathe Local Municipality, based in Parys, follows with R2 billion’s debt.

The top 20 municipalities that owe Eskom the most, also include the Moqhaka Local Municipality in Kroonstad, which owes R808 million, alongside the Dihlabeng Local Municipality in Bethlehem, with the same amount. The last municipality in the province that is included in the top 20 is the Nala Local Municipality in Bothaville, with R636 million.

North West municipalities are also included in the top 20 list. The municipality that owes Eskom the most is the City of Matlosana, based in Klerksdorp, with R1 billion. The Ditsobotla Local Municipality, headquartered in Lichtenburg, follows with R980 million. The last one in the province is the Naledi Local Municipality, based in Vryburg, with R672 million. All the amounts mentioned happen to be from 31 December 2022.

During October 2022, the Free State provincial spokesperson to Eskom, Titi Makhetha, said that 16 Free State municipalities collectively owe Eskom over R17 billion for services rendered.

Makhetha added that the top three owing municipalities are the Maluti-A-Phofung, Matjhabeng and Ngwathe Local Municipalities. “To date, these municipalities have brazenly increased their debt to Eskom to R13.3 billion.” The municipalities in question are:

•Mangaung

•Nketoana

•Mantsopa

•Tokologo

•Phumelela

•Mafube

•Letsemeng

•Masilonyana

•Tswelopele

In the City of Matlosana Local Municipality, it was explained that the municipality is struggling to keep up with arranged payments with its service providers.

The North West High Court has granted Eskom the right to attach the bank account of the municipality. The court order comes after the municipality failed to settle its monthly debt repayment to Eskom, which is R1.5 billion in the red now. Over the years, the municipality has failed to keep up with payment arrangements with Eskom plunging the city into a debt crisis.

The mayor to the municipality, James Tsolela, told OFM News that the municipality owes a combined R2.6 billion to at least two service providers and they are still failing to keep up with the monthly instalments. Tsolela said the municipality owes Eskom R1.5 billion and the [Midvaal] Water Board or utility R1.1 billion. He, however, said the municipality has further entered into more revised payment arrangements with these two entities.

OFM News/Tshehla Koteli