Councillors from the Mangaung metropolitan municipality are calling for the swift appointment of electricity distributor Centlec board members to oversee the smooth operation of outsourced electricity in the region.
The call was made during the metro’s Ordinary Council Meeting on Wednesday, following the Auditor General’s concerns that Centlec had not been running effectively and had been stagnating, showing no improvement in the past three financial years.
Centlec is an electricity provider which was established in April 2004 and currently distributes electricity to residential, commercial and industrial customers in Mangaung, Mohokare and Kopanong, at lower than transmission voltage levels via substations.
The Centlec board was dissolved in September 2022, when the African National Congress’ (ANC’s) Provincial Interim Committee requested its disbandment. It was only last Sunday, that three positions were advertised, however, and the matter was only tabled in the Ordinary Council Meeting meeting on Wednesday.
According to Democratic Alliance (DA) chief whip Dirk Kotze, the new board should be appointed as soon as possible to undertake oversight at Centlec, and to give direction to the CEO.
“Without a board we give the CEO and CFO veto to run the company as they wish . . . We await applications and shortlisting of candidates," said Kotze.
The council also discussed Eskom’s municipal debt relief. In September 2022, the metro and surrounding municipalities collectively owed around R17-million and applied for debt relief in May.
According to Kotze, Mangaung is Centlec’s only shareholder and has to account to the Mangaung council, and he believes the debt relief is a short-term solution to a long-term problem.
“The problem will always be municipalities getting money from end-users and then not paying it over to Eskom. Most electricity users are prepaid users, this means Centlec gets its money upfront but for some reason they do not pay over the money to Eskom. The relief will be given and months later that problem will reoccur,” he said.
Kotze said the main issue was that the Mangaung metro council had an ANC majority and that decisions were made in the council through an ANC majority, fulfilling the work of the ANC National Executive Committee.
“As the DA, our job is to caution, advise and give the community the correct feedback so that they are aware of the happenings in their metro. What we would do differently if this was a DA-run municipality, is make sure that there is consequence management. That is something that doesn’t exist in many ANC-run municipalities,” Kotze said.