In December 2019, The Newcastle community faced the shocking probability of being left in the dark due to reasons out of their control.
Being a result of the Newcastle Municipality failing to settle its two-year-old debt worth over R200 million to Eskom, lead to a mass uprising throughout the local community who were all demanding answers and more importantly, resolution.
Looking for a solution to this impending problem, the local Municipality structured an agreement with the SOE (State-owned enterprise)—resulting in tens of thousands of Newcastillian’s minds being put to ease, and life continuing.
However, now a year later, is the Newcastle Municipality honouring the payment plan between itself and Eskom? And just how much of the exorbitant debt has the Municipality paid back?
Head of Communications, Mlungisi Khumalo assures, “The municipality has been religiously servicing that debt as per the mayor’s promise to the residents of Newcastle that the municipality was working very hard in a bid to ensure the municipality is financially sound and able to meet its obligation of serving the public.”
To date, Khumalo highlights the Newcastle Municipality has managed to pay R26 500 000 to the power utility, as per the arrangement between the Municipality and Eskom. He adds, “Eskom is very happy that we are able to live up to the arrangement. As a municipality that also means we are on the right track, and we are able to fulfil our mandate of dispensing service delivery to the residents.”
In light of any other pressing debts Newcastillians should know about, Khumalo assures that while the Municipality does have other debts, none of them is as significant as that of Eskom. He further states the Municipality is working vigorously to also ensure that these are remedied soonest.
Furthermore, Khumalo stresses “The Newcastle Municipality has adopted a Budget Funding Plan, which is meant to refocus expenditure priorities, curtail expenditure on non-core items and reduce the budget deficit over a period of five to six years.”
He affirms, once the audit of annual financial statements for the 2019/2020 financial year are completed, both the Municipality and Newcastle community will have a better understanding of the financial stability of the Municipality. “However, we want to ensure residents of our Municipality that we are working tirelessly to ensure that we meet all our obligations. As a municipality, we thank residents that continue to ethically pay for all municipality services, which in turn ensures that the Municipality is able to dispense its duties of servicing the community. In the interest of accountability and transparency, the Municipality will continue to openly engage with the members of the public and share all the progressive strides which have been undertaken every financial year.”
In light of this positive progression, do you feel the Newcastle Municipality is heading in the correct direction?
Share your opinions with us in the comment section below.
Authors: Quinton Boucher and Calvin Swemmer
Edited: Calvin Swemmer