The Emalahleni Local Municipality in Mpumalanga is battling to repay a more than R5 billion debt to Eskom.

Currently, Eskom is implementing a stage 3 blackouts until Friday:

The Emalahleni Local Municipality is the economic hub of Mpumalanga boasting a number of power generating plants. It is also home to a number of coal mines and industries attracting an influx of people looking for greener pastures.

Informal settlements are mushrooming.  It is also facing issues of power due to illegal connections.

The municipality has also been hit hard by the rolling blackouts experienced nationwide.

The blackouts have affected not only the residents but also big and small businesses.

Michael Magagula runs an optometry practice in Ackerville. He says the blackouts have affected his practice.

” You will book a review to do a certain test, that requires electricity and the patient only came for that and now they have to go back and for them to come to the practice they use taxis, so it is a problem. There was one machine that got affected when electricity came back and it never worked, it was expensive to fix it.”

The blackouts also have a negative effect on investor confidence:

A resident Charles Magagula also questioned why Emalahleni residents are also paying high prices for electricity, while most of the power stations are based in the area.

” Emalahleni is producing if I am not mistaken, 70%, we don’t get even a lower price in our houses, we don’t know how they charge those units while they generate that electricity here at home.”

Meanwhile, the Executive Director for Technical Services at the municipality, Mike Lelaka,  says the debt has been accumulated over the years. He has appealed to the residents to pay their electricity bills.

” We have engaged with Eskom, we have some agreements that we have signed with Eskom, then we have what we call active partnering. We are finalising the nit and grits and the provision so that every part has the responsibility to implement, among others, is about ensuring people pay for the services, to ensure that people are aware they have to practice what we call active citizenry. They have to pay for the services.”

The rolling blackouts are having a devastating effect on most of the municipal services that include water provision, traffic movement, treatment of sewer, and security.

Nationally, municipalities are reportedly owing the power utility more than R35 billion.