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Parliament, Tuesday, 3 December 2019 – The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) today met with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), the South African Local Government Association (Salga) and Eskom to discuss possible solutions to the huge debt owed by municipalities to the power utility.

The committee was briefed on the amounts owed by different municipalities to Eskom, and how the total debt has escalated from R1.2 billion in 2013 to over R26 billion this year. Salga, an umbrella body representing all municipalities, told Scopa that one of the reasons municipalities could not honour their debt with Eskom was that they were also owed more than R165 billion in unpaid electricity bills by households, government departments and the business sector.

Scopa also heard that government departments owed municipalities an amount of R10.2 billion, the business sector R24.7 billion and household debt was at more than R118.5 billion.

The committee has resolved that the top 20 municipalities owing Eskom must provide payment plans by the end February next year, on how they were going to service their debt, and municipalities were advised to install smart prepaid electricity metres in all households to curb the escalating debt.

“The fact of the matter is that Eskom must be paid, if the payments are not made it means there must be more bailouts and we do not have resources for these bailouts,” said committee Chairperson, Mr Mkhuleko Hlengwa.

Scopa will communicate to all the defaulting departments, through the Leader of Government Business, so that they submit their payment plans before the beginning of the next financial year.

Scopa has also asked for CoGTA and Salga to submit a list of the top 20 defaulters in the private sector

ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCONTS, MR MKHULEKO HLENGWA.

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Name: Sakhile Mokoena
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