JB Marks six months and R200 million behind on Eskom payments

Issued by Cllr Johni Steenkamp – DA Caucus Leader: JB Marks Local Municipality
31 Jan 2024 in Press Statements

Note to Broadcasters: Please find a linked soundbite in English by Cllr Johni Steenkamp.

The persistent financial mismanagement of the ANC/PA coalition government in the JB Marks Local Municipality is now putting the lives and livelihoods of residents and the viability of local businesses at risk.

The JB Marks Council met today to consider the municipality’s mid-term budget report. Deliberations in Council revealed that at the start of the 2023/24 financial year, the municipality was fully up to date with payments of its Eskom bulk electricity account. Sadly, we are informed, that Eskom has issued notice to the municipality demanding immediate payment of more than R200 million outstanding for a period of more than six months.

We are reliably informed that Eskom has informed the JB Mark Local Municipality that should payment not be made, the power utility will proceed with disconnecting bulk electricity supply possibly by the end of February 2024.

In no uncertain terms will the DA allow the suspension of bulk electricity supply to JB Marks by Eskom. We are on record, supported by several High Court orders and a Constitutional Court judgement, that Eskom cannot unilaterally suspend bulk electricity supply to residents because of the financial mismanagement of ANC-led governments.

We have raised concerns, in Council, with the ANC/PA coalition government’s continued persistence in passing unfunded budgets. The non-payment to Eskom is a direct result of adopting an unfunded budget.

The financial situation of JB Marks unveiled in the midterm budget report is nothing short of horrific. It is evident that Council is being intentionally misled in a bid to cover up the risk to residents and the local economy.

There seems to be a major discrepancy between the financial statements presented in Council today and the reality of the true situation threatening the viability of the municipality. According to the official financial statements, there is no debt owed to Eskom, yet we are presented with undeniable evidence to the contrary. The DA condemns this blatant attempt to mislead both the Council and the public.

We raised concerns with the municipality’s bulk electricity account debt and demanded an explanation. The Municipal Manager, Kgomotso Kumbe, attributed the delay in payments to high winter month accounts, stating that only December’s account of R56 million has been settled. Furthermore, he claimed that a payment arrangement of R180 million has been made with Eskom. We remain sceptical of these assurances and demand full transparency and accountability in this matter.

The DA will not allow JB Marks residents to be held hostage as a bargaining chip for the ANC/PA-led coalitions failures. We have motivated for an immediate payment to be made to Eskom and that the bulk electricity account is fully serviced every month.

JB Marks residents should register to vote DA this weekend so that we rescue this municipality from the failed governance of the ANC which continues to make living in the beautiful city increasingly unbearable. Only a DA-led government will be able to rebuild what the ANC has destroyed.