Picture: Dumisani Sibeko
Durban - The Mooi-Mpofana municipality owes Eskom close to R100million for electricity and is in danger of having its supply cut.

Mayor Xolani Duma and administrator Martin Sithole are expected to hold an emergency meeting with the provincial government in an effort to prevent Eskom from plunging the area into darkness.

It was not immediately clear whether Eskom had imposed a deadline for the payment. Eskom’s media centre said it would comment on the matter today.

The municipality has allegedly been “an unreliable payer and failed to honour commitments” it had made with Eskom.

Mooi-Mpofana was placed under administration by the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) early this year.

“The challenge is that the previous administrations had failed to honour commitments made with Eskom, and Eskom has since threatened to cut supply or implement load shedding,” Duma said.

“We cannot allow that because both paying customers and those cheating on their accounts would be affected. We will be meeting the provincial government to find out what we can do to prevent Eskom from cutting our supply,” he said.

DA councillor Nhlalayenza Ndlovu said the last time he saw the Eskom bill, a few months ago, it had topped R100m.

“We have not had any updated figures on the debt as the council has not met. We are trying to pay off the debt but it’s a growing debt because many people are not paying for electricity,” he said.

IFP Councillor Mthembeni Majola said it was very difficult to get residents to pay.

“During the elections, some parties used electricity as a campaigning tool. They promised people will get free electricity. This municipality does not have an indigent policy, and therefore cannot give away electricity.

“This has resulted in a spiralling debt to Eskom, which stands at R100m,” said Majola.

The municipality is also under siege from residents who are demanding jobs in the council. A group of 70 people blockaded a road with burning tyres and stones, and demanded jobs and the removal of the mayor this week. 

About 14 workers have been issued with notices of suspension.

They were allegedly part of the community members who stormed a council building protesting about jobs that had been advertised. They felt the applications process was unfair.

These workers used their security access to give community members access to the Human Resources offices, where the CVs of those who had applied were kept. Those CVs were torn up by the community.

Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbhele said that Public Order Policing Unit members had been sent to Mooi River to monitor the area.

The Mercury