Pravin Gordhan EFF

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. File photo: Kopano Tlape/ GCIS

Eskom owed R23.5 billion by municipalities, debt increased in five months

Twenty municipalities aren’t paying the power utility for electricity usage.

Pravin Gordhan EFF

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. File photo: Kopano Tlape/ GCIS

Eskom is owed R23.5 billion by South Africa’s municipalities, according to Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. The amount has been steadily increasing.

Gordhan revealed the debt in a written reply to the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Parliamentary question. The political party queried the power utility’s overdue debt at the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

Eskom’s overdue municipality debt

In March this year, the Public Enterprises Minister revealed that the overdue debt owed to Eskom by municipalities was standing at R19.9 billion. The debt had since increased by the end of August 2019 to R23.5 billion.

Between March and August 2019, the collective municipal debt had increased by more than R3.5 billion. Gordhan was also questioned about the conductor and cable theft issues that the state-owned power utility was suffering.

Cable and conductor theft not helping debt

He revealed that, in recent years, conductor theft had also been on a rapid increase. The minister shared that there were 5150 incidents of cable theft for the 2018/19 financial year.

The police had managed to make 119 arrests in this regard for the 2018/19 financial year. The thefts have added onto Eskom’s debt and growing woes.

Gordhan revealed that the theft of Eskom cables, conductors, and other equipment amounted to R105 million for the same financial year.

Mabuza urges South Africans to pay debt

In September 2019, Deputy President David Mabuza blamed increasing consumer debt for many municipalities finding it hard to meet their payment obligations. Mabuza was speaking at a sitting of the NCOP.

At the time he revealed:

“The top 20 defaulting municipalities constitute 81% of total invoiced municipal arrear debt with total arrear debt of more than R100 million each. However, indications are, these figures have increased significantly over the past few months.”

David Mabuza, Deputy President

The deputy president also urged South Africans to alleviate the burden of debt faced by municipalities. He encouraged the nation to confront the culture of “non-payment,” especially with regards to consumer debt.

Mabuza said:

“We must engender a culture of paying for services that have been rendered and consumed, especially from public entities like Eskom, just as we do with any other form of services rendered for private consumption.”

David Mabuza, Deputy President

Eskom has endeavoured to disconnect areas that aren’t paying for their electricity connections to prevent an increased debt. The power utility posts updates of its actions on its social media accounts.

In some areas, Eskom has gone as far as disconnecting illegal connections to try and curb continued crimes.