LMBC Chairperson’s response to ESKOM courtcase

Leon de Jager , Chairman of the Lydenburg / Mashishing Business Chamber, comments as follows on the Interim Court order granted by the High Court of Mpumalanga on the 27th December 2017. The Court ordered Eskom to restore the full supply of electricity to TCLM with immediate effect and may not  terminate or interrupt the […]

ACTION AGAINST TCLM / ESKOM et al.

NOTICE FROM THE COMBINED CHAMBERS OF LYDENBURG, SABIE AND GRASKOP

Good evening fellow Sabians, Lydenburgers and Graskop Residents
Let me start by saying that this Bulletin comes from the combined energies of your three Chambers (Sabie, Lydenburg and Graskop).
Then, let me say the following, first said by Margaret Mead (Anthropologist) whose words could never have been more true …
“Who says that a small group of concerned citizens cannot change the World ?
Indeed … it’s the only thing that ever has !”

This is my Mantra and I hope that this can become our motto !

We all know that Eskom-imposed power cuts have been hurting us and our economy since 9th October 2017. The load shedding of five and a half hours per day will be increased by two more hours as of tomorrow morning. This “load shedding” has been implemented by Eskom since 9th October 2017 due to Thaba Chweu Local Municipality’s (“TCLM”) overdue accounts that have caused severe distress and hardship for communities covered by TCLM.

The Sabie Chamber of Commerce and Tourism’s continued efforts (together with those of the Lydenburg and Graskop Chambers) to engage with the Thaba Chweu Local Municipality to resolve the matter has been met with a total lack of co-operation. Engagements with Eskom and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (“CoGTA”) has also not achieved the desired outcome. This has further been exacerbated by TCLM’s blatant lie by assuring the community through its media statement dated 23rd October 2017 that it “successfully managed to negotiate with power giant not to effect more hours of load shedding than the current schedule”. This has been followed by Eskom’s media statement of even date that the duration of supply interruptions to TCLM will be increased by an additional two hours per day, effective from 25th October 2017.

The Chambers can only empathise with all those in business and those who are preparing for work / school and those who are preparing for their final Matric examinations (which both TCLM and Eskom are denying you a fair chance to succeed).

Moreover, we have, today, been informed that the Sabie sewerage plant needs to be operable for at least 16 hours per day, failing which, raw sewerage will flow into the Sabie River, affecting hundreds (of not thousands) of persons down-river who rely on the Sabie River for their water source; affecting also the various tourism activities on the River, as far as the Kruger Park. With the envisaged power cuts by Eskom, the situation becomes “borderline”, if not catastrophic!

The continued failure by TCLM to address this issue has left the Sabie, Lydenburg and Graskop Chambers of Commerce and Tourism (“the Chambers”) with no resort but to approach the High Court as an alternative means of intervention. I am pleased to inform you that we did so today.

The Chambers have launched an urgent application at the High Court at Mbombela today. The application is against nine parties, being TCLM, Municipal Manager: TCLM, Executive Mayor: TCLM, CFO: TCLM, Eskom, NERSA, Minister of Energy, MEC and Minister of COGTA.

The request to the High Court is in two parts:
In the first part of the request, the Chambers are asking the court to grant an order whereby TCLM must pay R79.5 million (as requested by Eskom) within five days of the date of the court order.
We also requested that Eskom restores the full supply of electricity to TCLM and may not terminate or interrupt such supply pending the finalisation of the relief that is sought in the second part of the application. This part of the request will be heard in court on 31st October 2017.

All nine parties received notice of the application today and if they want to oppose the application, they must notify the Chambers by 10h00 on 26 October 2017. We will keep you informed of progress in this regard.

The parties who wish to oppose are then given until 12h00 on 27th October 2017 to submit their affidavits giving reasons why they oppose the application. If the court grants the order, as set out in the request to the Court, TCLM and Eskom will have to comply with the court order; failure of which will result in contempt of court.

In the second part of the request, the Chambers will be requesting the court to declare Eskom’s decision to interrupt the supply of electricity to TCLM to be inconsistent with the Constitution of South Africa and therefore invalid.
The Chambers will also be requesting the court to declare that TCLM, Municipal Manager: TCLM, Executive Mayor: TCLM, CFO: and TCLM’s failure to ensure that the electricity supply was not interrupted is unconstitutional and therefore invalid.
In addition, the Chambers will be requesting that the court declare CoGTA’s failure to take steps to intervene in TCLM to avert the crisis, which resulted in the interruption of electricity supply to TCLM by Eskom, is unconstitutional and invalid. This part of the request will be heard at a date to be arranged with the Registrar of the High Court.

The basis for the Chambers’ requests above is thoroughly substantiated in the Founding Affidavit (together with annexures) / Notice of Motion supporting the application. This will be available upon request to the Sabie Chamber of Commerce and Tourism (be warned – it is a very large document !). The volume of documentation is vast but it supports our Application.
Folks, we have a long road to follow from here on. Notwithstanding that, we (the Combined Chambers) are confident that with our Members’ and citizens’ support, we can create History for our region and moreover, we can create a precedent for all those other small towns throughout South Africa who are currently being deprived of a reasonable way of life due to their dysfunctional municipalities. Please stand with us as we go forward … we cannot do this without your support; but with that, we will, indeed, make history!!
Please remember that the future of Lydenburg, Sabie and Graskop rests in our hands!!!

A petition has been launched in Lydenburg and will, tomorrow, be launched in Sabie and Graskop, all regarding the Eskom debacle and service delivery. We urge you all to sign this because our future lies in our own hands … let’s shape it in the right way !!

Moreover, as of tomorrow, 25th October, we will be embarking on a huge media campaign to showcase our plight.
Please remember Margaret Mead’s words above.
With greetings from the Combined Chambers of Commerce in Lydenburg, Sabie and Graskop.
Please, let’s hear from you if you have any comments / queries.
Contact sabiechamber@gmail.com

Sincerely,
Captain Gwilym Rees
Chairman – Sabie Chamber of Commerce and Tourism
On behalf of the Combined Chambers of Lydenburg, Sabie and Graskop