Pretoria - The Renosterberg Local Municipality in the Northern Cape has blamed Eskom for its failure to pay almost 100 municipal workers in December, forcing them to spend a bleak Christmas.
Executive mayor Andrew Samson yesterday confirmed that workers had not received their salaries, but said the problem was as a result of the municipal account being “frozen” by Eskom due to non-payment.
“Eskom has frozen the account of the municipality and as a result we could not have access to the account in order to pay the salaries of our employees,” Samson said.
He said the municipality owed Eskom a staggering R106 million and was struggling to settle the amount because it was located in impoverished communities with unemployment.
Acting municipal manager Kgabaganyo Matolong told the Pretoria News that the debts owed to Eskom by the municipality were “not peculiar to Renosterberg”.
He said he was unable to give a date when workers would be remunerated, saying, “the ball is in Eskom’s court”.
“We found a lot of litigation when we came in and Eskom did manage to obtain a writ of execution on the municipal account and at the moment we are locked in negotiations with Eskom.”
At the time of publication Eskom was yet to respond with a comment.
Matolong spoke to the Pretoria News after the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) expressed concern about the management failures at the municipality.
The union said that in a space of two months after the November 2021 municipal polls, the municipality had two municipal managers.
The first one abruptly resigned from her position due to ill health, according to Samson.
Regional Samwu secretary Peter Demas yesterday said the incumbent municipal manager was seemingly unable to stabilise the institution.
“Workers now have to bear the brunt of executive failures at the institution. Their families could not enjoy Christmas with their families like other workers in the country as they could not put food on the table for them nor buy essentials that are associated with Christmas, such as gifts and clothes for their children,” the union said in a statement.
The union shared Matolong’s sentiment that problems at the municipality were “exacerbated when Eskom attached the municipality’s bank account due to non-payment”.
“For a long period, the municipality has been failing to pay workers their salaries on time while third parties such as pension funds, medical aids and funereal policies have not been paid for a period,” it said.
It called on the Northern Cape Provincial Government to intervene through Section 139(1)(c) of the Constitution and dissolve the municipality.
Provincial government spokesperson Bronwyn Thomas-Abrahams did not reply to a request for comment.