Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown has directed energy parastatal Eskom to give municipalities more time to settle finances before cutting off power.
Eskom has repeatedly requested that several municipalities settle their electricity debts, with some already having done so, while others continue to wallow in financial distress.
“One cannot help feeling sympathetic to those who pay their electricity bills in good faith, only for the payments to be consumed by municipalities with precious little income and resources,” says the Minister.
However, she has also noted the detrimental effect such debt can have on Eskom in the future, and says that municipalities should institute pre-paid billing in order to “build a payment culture”.
Eskom, meanwhile, has held discussions with the Free State Provincial Government with regards to several of its own municipalities.
The company has agreed to suspend all electricity interruptions in seven defaulting municipalities, subject to the debt being settled by mid-February.