Premier Panyaza Lesufi was wrong. Your Eskom debt has NOT been written off, despite his claim during an African National Congress (ANC) election campaign in Gauteng. As per IOL, Eskom swiftly clarified it had not decided to write off long-standing electricity debts, emphasising their ongoing struggle to address municipal debt, which had surged to a staggering R58.5 billion. Lesufi, also the provincial ANC leader, had reportedly assured that all arrears owed to Eskom for years had been officially scrapped, starting afresh for everyone. However, Eskom countered that the Municipal Debt Relief, crucial for any write-offs, has conditions that municipalities must fulfil over the next three years. The utility would process debt write-offs only after municipalities meet these conditions for twelve consecutive months, per National Treasury satisfaction.
As disclosed by Eskom, South Africa’s municipal debt crisis has reached alarming levels, with a 30% increase to R58.5 billion by March 2023. Approximately 78% of this debt burden falls on the top 20 defaulting municipalities. Eskom clarified that Municipal Debt Relief applies only to municipalities and not other customer categories. The utility maintains various mechanisms to aid direct residential customers struggling with bill payments. However, it stresses that non-payment and failure to engage leave them with no choice but to implement credit control measures, including service interruptions.
Despite Eskom’s active pursuit of debt collection, arrears persist, prompting the utility to highlight the importance of a high-level, concerted effort involving multiple stakeholders. Eskom places hope in the Municipal Debt Relief initiative, led by the National Treasury, designed to assist municipalities in resolving historical debt issues and enhancing Eskom’s financial health. Encouragingly, most municipalities have sought the National Treasury’s debt relief program, with 52 receiving approval and six in conditional stages. Monde Bala, Eskom’s Group Executive for Distribution, acknowledged the positive trend of municipalities embracing relief programs while actively engaging with those who have not responded favourably. Eskom remains committed to these discussions to facilitate broader participation in resolving the mounting debt crisis.
Picture: Facebook / Panyaza Lesufi
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