The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) notes and welcomes the decision by the National Treasury to extend applications for the Eskom Municipal Debt Relief Support to 30 October 2023. This relief support grant was announced by the Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana earlier this year when delivering his Budget Speech. Minister Godongwana announced a R59 billion package aimed at assisting municipalities to settle their Eskom debt.
When the relief support was announced, SAMWU welcomed it as a step in assisting many of the country’s municipalities to settle their Eskom debt. The extension by National Treasury however suggests that many municipalities have not applied for this package. The Union therefore calls on all municipalities with historical Eskom debt to apply for this relief package.
Collectively, 136 municipalities owe Eskom R58 billion, with many of them not in a position to settle their debt without affecting service delivery. Our members and municipal workers in general have had to go weeks without getting their salaries as a result of Eskom having attached municipal bank accounts due to non-payment. We are, as a Union concerned that, National Treasury has only received 62 applications, translating to 45% of municipalities identified as being in arrears on their Eskom debt.
As SAMWU, we have on numerous occasions called for intergovernmental relations as one of the ways of dealing with the financial challenges faced by municipalities. It is, however disappointing, that when an opportunity presents itself for municipalities to receive financial support that will enable them to settle their historical debt and avoid attachments of bank accounts, many have decided not to apply for the assistance.
There are currently many workers in several municipalities such as Ditlobotla, Masilonyane and Mohokare who have not yet received their salaries due to financial constraints. Workers in Tshwane have also been denied salary increases, with the City claiming its debt to Eskom as a compounding factor to its finances.
In ensuring that municipalities are relived from the financial strain they face, SAMWU calls on Provincial Governments in all nine provinces to ensure that all municipalities with historical Eskom debt apply for this relief grant. Provincial Governments are empowered in terms of the Constitution to play an oversight role within the Local Government sphere. We further call on Councils in ailing municipalities to take corrective action against Municipal Managers who have failed to apply for this relief which would provide the much needed support to municipalities. Municipal Managers are the ultimate executive authority and as such, they have an obligation towards residents and workers to ensure that their municipalities are in a sound financial position.
Although the Eskom Municipal Debt Relief Support will not solve all financial challenges faced by municipalities, we firmly believe that this is a much needed support which will assist municipalities. The Union is of the view that many challenges faced by municipalities are financial in nature and as such, there is a need to review the municipal funding model.
As SAMWU, we have a vested interest in seeing municipalities that deliver services to residents while also paying workers their salaries and third parties on time, and without fail.
Issued by SAMWU Secretariat
(076 580 4029)
Deputy General Secretary
(082 526 5224)
National Media Officer
(073 710 0356)