The Democratic Alliance today calls on KZN CoGTA MEC, Sipho Hlomuka, to urgently place the Newcastle municipality under administration as an estimated 100 000 residents are set to be plunged into darkness.

This after the local municipality consistently defaulted on payments towards a debt in excess of R2 billion debt, which has been accruing since 2017, owed to Eskom.

During the recent KZN budget debates, the DA raised the issue of provincial municipalities owing monies to Eskom. We also warned of the looming disaster if this was not dealt with. At the time, MEC Hlomuka responded saying that “For our part, we have been conducting revenue enhancement campaigns in selected municipalities and we have been successful.”

Clearly this is not the case for Newcastle. The DA is once again calling on the MEC to use his powers of intervention and put this municipality under administration so that the issues of governance and leadership can be urgently addressed.

According to an official notice from Eskom, industrial, commercial and residential areas which receive electricity from the municipality will be disconnected from 6am until 12pm, and again from 3pm until 8.30pm, every weekday from September 30 till October 6. From October 7, electricity will be disconnected from 6am till 8pm on weekdays, until the municipality has paid all its outstanding debt.

Newcastle is a prime example of how wrong things can go when there is a lack of leadership – at both a provincial and local level. The fact that it is one of at least six municipalities which are on the verge of having their electricity cut off speaks volumes. The others include;

• Mpofana (Mooi River)
• Mthonjaneni (Melmoth)
• Ulundi
• Inkosi Langalibalele Municipality (Estcourt); and
• Abaqulusi.

Next week the DA will meet with various community leaders and business people in Newcastle who are going to have to cut staff and decrease productivity amongst other things. The ANC is killing this town and it is because money has been spent recklessly and without oversight. We expect the MEC to act swiftly.