SAMWU calls on municipalities in Northern Cape to settle their R2.8 billion Eskom debt.

11 April 2022

SAMWU calls on municipalities in Northern Cape to settle their R2.8 billion Eskom debt.

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union SAMWU in the Northern Cape province has noted with great concern a statement released by Eskom wherein the power utility reveals that 18 of the province’s 31 municipalities have not honoured their best commitment to the tune of R2.8 billion as of the 7th of April 2021. Most worryingly is Eskom’s position that only two municipalities of the 18 are in talks with the utility on making acceptable payment arrangements.

As SAMWU, we have learnt with great pain and experience the consequences of municipalities not settling their debt with Eskom which has resulted in the power utility approaching the courts and successfully attaching bank accounts of municipalities such as Renosterburg which was as a result not able to pay its creditors and employees earlier in the year.

We therefore call on the affected municipalities to settle their debt with Eskom. We further call on municipalities that are facing financial challenges to take proactive measures to engage with Eskom on making payment arrangements so to avoid the experiences of bank accounts being attached. We are particularly worried that the Renosterburg Local Municipality has been cited as one of the municipalities that have not settled their account, we had thought that previous painful experiences would have made them to rush into ensuring that their house is in order. Another worry is that the province’s Capital City, the Sol Plaatjie Local Municipality is also listed as defaulters, thus creating an impression that the problem is systematic in the entire province.

Taking into account our experiences of workers having have gone for extended periods without receiving their salaries, we urge all municipalities to begin a rigorous process of pursuing businesses and government entities for outstanding municipal debt so they are able to honour their debt obligations.

The Provincial Government should also play its role in ensuring that all government departments have settled their debt with the province’s municipalities. Importantly, the Provincial Government should continuously play their oversight role in municipalities in line with Section 154 of the Constitution. Eskom as a State Owned Entity also has a role to play in ensuring the functioning of inter-governmental relations and as such should not rush to the courts to attach municipal bank accounts but rather should be open to meaningful dialogue with the aim of resolving the current situation in the interest of all stakeholders.

As SAMWU, we will be writing to the MEC of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Bentey Vass to get assurance that the Provincial Government is indeed playing their supervisory role in municipalities. We will further assurances from the MEC that the Provincial Government is doing all that they possibly can to assist these municipalities in settling their debt.

The pain that workers experience as a result of not receiving their salaries is unbearable and as such should be prevented by all means possible, especially now that there is an opportunity for engagements before these matters are in court.

Issued by SAMWU Northern Cape

Lawrence Fennie
Provincial Secretary
(071 889 2023)


Thobeka Mthintelwa
Deputy Provincial Secretary
(076 329 8860)