The Mahikeng High Court has ruled in favour of the Matlosana Business Chamber and ordered power utility Eskom not to cut the electricity to the Matlosana Local Municipality in Klerksdorp.
This is after the Chamber challenged both Eskom and the municipality, arguing that its members are up to date with their electricity bills, and it will be unfair to cut their power.
The Matlosana Local Municipality reportedly owes Eskom more than R400 million. Two weeks ago, the power utility threatened to cut the electricity, as the municipality had failed to honour its payment commitment.
Unhappy business owners approached the Mahikeng High Court, arguing that their accounts were up to date. They also threatened to withhold their money and directly pay service providers.
“We definitely are going to force and check the balances in terms of the law, the existing laws of our country. If we continue with the court application it’s most likely that the court may give us an order to say now whoever is paying must pay directly to Eskom and to Midvaal,” said Chairperson of the Matlosana Business Chamber, Johan Oosthuizen.
‘Paying service providers directly’
A local government expert, Professor Barry Hanyane, says paying service providers directly is the way to go. “This is the right way to go, most communities elsewhere are now taking charge of their fate and their future. You can name a number of cases I have mentioned Harrismith, Bushbuckridge is one such instance, where communities are fed up and the constitution does allow them. For the mere fact that mere individuals be it, civil organisations have now challenged the electoral system in this country and we are seeing changes on that front. It tells us that indeed power belongs to the people.”
The Westvaal Chamber of Commerce, also in Klerksdorp, has now joined in, and is calling for political intervention.
“We might as well assure that paying the service provider directly is the last resort hence we are forever intending to engage with the municipality. I must emphasise meeting with the municipal manager, the CFO and other directors alone is not enough. We urge them that we need political buy-in because if we don’t have any political support certainly whatever we are doing here will be null and void,” says Chairperson Kgotso Mmadi.
The municipality says it will abide by the court order and has called on consumers to start paying for services.
“This is a message to businesses and consumers, if you know you owe the municipality please come, don’t wait for us to come to your doors. Our credit control measures are also been rolled out in its fullest. Our debts collection will also be in full play. Now we are more robust than ever because we need to service a court order. It’s a serious order that we need to take upon ourselves that we will honour,” says Acting Municipal Manager, Lesego Seametso.