Electricity ombudsman not feasible, says Dlamini Zuma
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Johannesburg - The Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) has concluded that it is not feasible to appoint an electricity ombudsman to resolve disputes between electricity suppliers and users.
Minister of Co-operative Governance Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma revealed this response to parliamentary questions posed by DA MP Cilliers Brink.
The Eskom Technical Task Team was established as an interdepartmental and intergovernmental platform to facilitate the discussion and resolution on matters relating to outstanding payments and debt owed to the power utility.
The team resolved that an ombudsman must be appointed to process and verify the amount of debt owed by organs of state to municipalities, and in turn the debt owed by municipalities to Eskom, Water Boards, and the Department of Water and Sanitation Trading Entity.
However, the department sought advice from their Legal Services Unit.
In her written response, Dlamini Zuma said a panel of intergovernmental dispute facilitators would instead be established:
"As the custodian of the Intergovernmental Relations Framework (IGRFA) Act 13 of 2005, my department was tasked to initiate and facilitate the appointment of an ombudsman. The department obtained advice from its Legal Services Unit and the unit dealing with intergovernmental relations on the feasibility of appointing an ombudsman to act as an intergovernmental dispute facilitator. It was concluded that such an appointment would not be feasible as the IGRFA makes specific reference to an 'Intergovernmental Dispute Facilitator' with key responsibilities that are different to the definition and role of an ombudsman,” said Dlamini Zuma.
"The Technical Task Team endorsed the establishment of a panel of intergovernmental dispute facilitators instead. Given the technical nature of the disputes, such a panel will comprise senior officials from member departments and stakeholder entities making up the Eskom Technical Task Team," she said.
Dlamini Zuma said this process was now under way and the department of Cogta had also developed the terms of reference that would frame the functioning of such a panel which was approved and endorsed by the Eskom Technical Task Team.