Johannesburg – The ANC-run Emfuleni Local Municipality in the Vaal in Gauteng has told its employees that it may have challenges in paying them their monthly salaries due on Wednesday (January 15, 2023).
It attributed the problem to its accounts having been attached by Eskom over a huge electricity debt of R1.3 billion that resulted in a court action by the power utility as it seeks to recoup the money owed to it.
The notice was sent to the employees on Tuesday, hours before they would have received their first salaries for 2023.
Then memo was sent out by acting municipal manager April Ntuli, and the non-payment of salaries also affect councillors and service providers.
“On behalf of senior management this communication serves to inform employees of the Emfuleni Local Municipality that the municipality is currently facing a challenge with regard to the processing of salaries for the month of January, 2023.
“The non-processing of salaries is based on Eskom having attached Emfuleni Municipality’s bank account,” Ntuli said in the memo.
He said Eskom has undertaken to meet them on Wednesday over the matter.
“Eskom has initiated to meet with the executive mayor, his task team, union representatives, and Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi on Wednesday, January 25, 2023 to discuss the attachment of the municipal bank accounts,” Ntuli said.
He said as a result of the attachment, they have been made aware that third-party payments were not made.
“The municipality is aware that third-party payments were not made.
“‘However, the employer is trying its utmost best to resolve the situation and accordingly, keep employees informed of any developments.
“The executive mayor and senior management unreservedly apologise for any inconvenience caused by this untenable situation,” Ntuli said.
In December, last year IOL reported that Eskom had demanded the municipality pay it R386 million before the 2022 year-end.
In a letter dated December 20, 2022 written by Mpumelelo Mnyani, a senior retail manager in the Gauteng cluster, addressed to the municipality and copied to Premier Lesufi, Eskom said it could not afford to make any concessions.
“Eskom has and continues to suffer major cash-flow challenges resulting from non-payment by its customers, largely local government. The municipal debt is simply untenable and detrimental to Eskom, which places South Africa’s (electricity) supply security at risk,” Mnyani wrote.
It is not clear whether that money was paid or not.
At the time of that debacle, Emfuleni mayor Sipho Radebe told IOL that they would keep the lights on during the festive season, and that they were happy Eskom had handed back their bank accounts.
“Yes, the municipality will be able to keep the lights on and pay its employees, and finally Eskom has uplifted the attachment of the account,” Radebe said in response to IOL back then.
He is yet to respond to the latest developments as asked by IOL late on Tuesday.