The Democratic Alliance (DA) has taken note of reports indicating that Parliament owes Eskom R17 000 in debt. Parliamentary Spokesperson, Moloto Mothapo have since denied that Parliament owes Eskom, arguing that Parliament’s buildings, which include the parliamentary precinct and villages that accommodate Members of Parliament in Cape Town, are under the management of the Department of Public Works. Essentially stating that Public Works and not Parliament has an electricity account with Eskom, therefore, Parliament cannot owe or be in arrears with the power utility.
This is in stark contradiction with a presentation to Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) by the Department of Cooperative Governance, which indicated that Parliament does indeed owe Eskom R17 000 in debts. Furthermore, the presentation also revealed that Public Works owes Eskom R3 billion in debt.
While Parliament’s debt may seem like a drop in the ocean compared to the billions owed by Public Works – the rolling blackouts we’re currently facing is indicative of the need for state organs to pay their debts.
The DA is of the view that, instead of indulging in circular arguments and blame shifting, which will do nothing to abate the Eskom crisis, state organs have a moral imperative to pay their bills. Departments such as Public Works are being allowed to sabotage Eskom by owing this amount which is almost 10% of Eskom’s total outstanding debt of R44 billion.
The announcement of rolling blackouts, particularly at this time of the year will have an adverse effect on our country’s tourism sector. Yet, Parliament decides to get in on the circular arguments, at a time when Eskom is dealing yet another major blow to our fragile economy.
The DA believes bailouts to the embattled power utility would be lessened if organs of state and municipalities simply paid what they owe to Eskom. But ultimately the only way we can ever ensure that Eskom’s monopolistic clutches over the energy sector is broken is through the DA’s Cheaper Electricity Bill.
Benedicta Van Minnen MP
DA Member on the Standing Committee on Public Accounts
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