Of the R4.6 billion in unpaid electricity rates owed to Eskom as of 31st March this year, over 70% is owed by 20 municipalities, and the national utility has resorted to disconnecting bulk electricity to these areas as a reactionary method.

From Monday to Friday between 6am – 10am and 5pm and 9pm and on weekends from 7am – 10am and 5pm – 8pm, Eskom will disconnect bulk electricity supply in the following 20 defaulting municipalities:

  • Maluti-a-Phofung Municipality
  • Matjhabeng Municipality
  • Emalahleni Local Municipality
  • Ngwathe Local Municipality
  • Thaba Chweu Local Municipality
  • Lekwa Local Municipality
  • Govan Mbeki Municipality
  • City of Matlosana Local Municipality
  • Naledi Local Municipality
  • Thabazimbi Local Municipality
  • Msukaligwa Local Municipality
  • Lichtenburg Municipality
  • Nala Local Municipality
  • Makana Local Municipality
  • Madibeng Local Municipality
  • Randfontein Local Municipality
  • Dihlabeng Municipality
  • Nketoana Local Municipality
  • Nama Khoi Local Municipality
  • Westonaria Local Municipality

After a bit of digging on the Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) website we managed to calculate that the Free State province has the most number of defaulting municipalities at six, followed closely by Mpumalanga at five, North West at three, Gauteng and Northern Cape at two each and Eastern Cape and Western Cape at one each.

And having calculated all the official census numbers recorded for each municipality, we estimated that a total of over 3.6 million people will be affected by the bulk electricity cuts.

“Non-payment for electricity undermines Eskom’s statutory obligation to generate and supply electricity to municipalities nationally on a financially sustainable basis,” said interim Eskom CEO Zethembe Khoza in a statement.

“We have therefore decided to exercise our right according to the provisions of the Electricity Regulation Act 4 of 2006 and the supply agreement with municipalities, which entitled us to disconnect the supply of electricity to defaulting municipalities.”

The cuts will affect all businesses and residents as there is of course no way of detecting who exactly are the defaulters when electricity is purchased via a municipality – so expect a massive backlash as soon as the power outs kick in. Eskom recognises this and has apologised to the inconvenience it will be for those who do pay their electricity rates.

“Eskom recognises that the disconnection of electricity supply may cause undue hardship to consumers and members of the community, and may adversely affect the delivery of other services, however, customer disconnection is always the last resort explored,” the company said.

A list of defaulting municipalities for each province will be published by 30th April via provincial media channels and consumers within the jurisdiction of a defaulting municipality will be given adequate notice in terms of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, no 3 of 2000.

[Image – CC BY-SA 3.0]