KwaZulu-Natal’s Municipalities Grapple with Load Shedding’s Financial Strain
The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) recently highlighted the growing financial burden of load shedding on the province’s municipalities. This issue has become more pressing due to the aging infrastructure in some municipalities, which hasn’t been maintained effectively.
Key Meeting: Discussing Municipal Challenges
A meeting was held on Tuesday, attended by mayors, speakers, and municipal managers, to discuss various issues impacting the region. Xolani Sibiya from the department presented a report on the consequences of load shedding for KwaZulu-Natal’s municipalities. He emphasized the need to reduce reliance on the Eskom grid.
Load Shedding Effects on Infrastructure
- Adverse impact on electricity infrastructure due to frequent switching on and off of sensitive equipment
- Struggling municipalities face dilapidated infrastructure due to lack of maintenance, refurbishment, and investment
- Increased theft of infrastructure during load shedding periods, as there’s no electrocution risk
- Replacement costs for stolen or failed equipment negatively affect service delivery in other sectors
Sibiya’s report revealed that some municipalities spend up to R180,000 a day repairing power infrastructure damaged by load shedding. Other daily costs incurred include:
- Approximately R150,000 to R250,000 due to cable faults after restoring electricity supply
- Around R50,000 to R150,000 for medium voltage switchgear failures
- Load shedding’s adverse effects on crucial infrastructure, such as pump stations, water reservoir telemetry systems, and wastewater treatment works
Addressing the Issue of Municipal Administration
At the meeting, Cogta MEC Bongi Sithole-Moloi addressed the controversial issue of placing municipalities under administration. She asserted that it’s a last resort, and the department doesn’t take pleasure in implementing it.
She clarified the department’s stance:
- They prefer supporting municipalities under Section 154 of the Constitution
- They will intervene if a municipality needs closer oversight
- The intention is to build capacity in the municipality to better serve its citizens
- Once the municipality regains stability, the department will revert to providing support under Section 154
Sithole-Moloi emphasized that this approach relies on mayors and senior municipal officials effectively conducting council business in a responsible manner.