Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut (AHI) CEO Christo van der Rheede was shocked on Friday afternoon when he learnt from Moneyweb about Eskom’s plans to cut the electricity supply to 20 defaulting municipalities.
Eskom announced on Friday that it has started preparations to cut electricity supply to 20 towns from June 5 for several hours every morning and every night.
Van der Rheede was part of an organised business delegation that met with representatives from Eskom’s war room under the leadership of deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa a week before.
“They promised to be transparent and keep the business sector informed, but no word was spoken about these planned disconnections”, Van der Rheede said. He said the left hand clearly doesn’t know what the right hand is doing at Eskom and this lack of communication undermines the trust of organised business in government.
Van der Rheede said it is wrong to penalise businesses and other customers who duly pay their electricity accounts to their local authorities, when these authorities fail to pay Eskom. “It leaves paying customers between a rock and a hard place.”
He said there should be consequences for officials who fail in their duties. Treasury should place such municipalities under administration and kick out staff who don’t add any value, he said.
Van der Rheede said industrial clients should have the option to buy electricity directly from Eskom, but that doesn’t happen, because failing municipalities are being protected. “There is a lack of political will to act against these municipalities,” he says.
More and more business owners take steps to become independent from an energy perspective and move off the grid. This is the result of Eskom and municipalities alienating their customers, Van der Rheede says.
He expects legal action to prevent Eskom from implementing its plans. The AHI will support such action, he said.