Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Zweli Mkhize says that municipal debt owed to Eskom rose to R17 billion by the end of September.
It stood at R14.3 billion in May.
Mkhize says there’s been a similar rise in the amount that municipalities owe water boards. The minister is part of an inter-ministerial task team set up to deal with the problem.
He’s been briefing Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts and says there’s been progress in finding solutions, but that a number of political decisions must still be made.
Mkhize says the massive debt owed to Eskom continues to rise.
“We have noted sadly that the debt stood at R14.3 billion around May, and then currently it has gone up to R17 billion that is just for Eskom. A similar rise is also there on the water utilities aspect.”
He says it is a national problem and not one that the power utility can solve alone.
“It has a massive amount of implications for the economy of the country.”
A technical advisory panel has made a number of recommendations, including load shedding rather than disconnecting non-paying municipalities and a moratorium on interest until principal debt is repaid.
But Mkhize says these are just proposals and the report must still come before Cabinet.