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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

Am I really responsible for the municipal debts of a previous owner?

 

The question that was on everyone’s lips whilst uncertainty roamed as our courts have not had the opportunity to test the constitutionality of Section 118 of the Municipal Systems Act (MSA). Well that time has come and the Constitutional Court has spoken.

The Constitutional Court recently handed down judgement in Jordaan and Others v City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality and Others, and declared that a new owner is not liable for the previous owner’s debts arising before transfer of the property.Section 118(3) has been the cause of a lot of concern for home owners as this section is viewed as enabling a municipality to hold a new home owner responsible for the arrear municipal debts of a previous owner. According to this section, an amount due for municipal fees is a charge upon the property and enjoys preference over any mortgage bond registered against the property, thereby creating a security provision in favor of the municipality for the payment of the outstanding debts. No time limit is attached to this provision and it does not matter when the secured debt became due. The Court held that section 118(3) does not require public formalisation (e.g. registration in the Deeds Registry) and this is required to give notice of its creation to the world. The Bill of Rights prohibits arbitrary deprivation of property, which would happen if debts without historical limit are imposed on a new owner. Therefore, to avoid unjustified arbitrariness in violation of section 25(1) of the Bill of Rights, section 118(3) of the Municipal Systems Act must be interpreted so that the charge it imposes does not survive transfer to a new owner.According to the Constitutional Court, section 118(3) is not unconstitutional and is well capable of being interpreted so that the charge does not survive transfer to the new owner and it declared that, upon transfer of a property, a new owner is not liable for debts arising before transfer from the charge upon the property under section 118(3) of the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act 32 of 2000.

Jordaan and Others v City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality and Others

Author: Natalie Steenkamp, Associate, Phatshoane Henney Attorneys

MEDIA STATEMENT:  Fitch Ratings (Fitch) affirmed South Africa’s long term foreign and local currency debt ratings, outlook remains stable

Fitch has affirmed South Africa’s long term foreign and local currency debt ratings of ‘BB+’ with a stable outlook.
Fitch has cited that despite the country’s credit strengths of deep local capital markets, favourable government debt structure and a track record of fairly prudent fiscal and monetary policy, South Africa’s ratings continue to be weighed down by:

· Low potential economic growth;
· Sizable contingent liabilities; and
· Deteriorating governance of state-owned companies (SOCs).

According to the rating agency, “the March 2017 Cabinet reshuffle that triggered the downgrade of South Africa’s ratings is likely to undermine governance of SOCs, weaken fiscal consolidation and reduce private sector investment as a result of weaker business confidence”.

The rating agency is also of the view that “while efforts to improve the SOC governance framework will continue, implementation decisions, for example on appointments of senior SOC management, will hamper these efforts and could lead to weaker financial positions of SOCs and higher contingent liabilities for the government”.

Government notes the decision of Fitch and expresses gratitude to all the stakeholders who participated in the meetings with the rating agency and ensured that the country is not downgraded further.

Nonetheless, government emphasises that fiscal consolidation remains firmly on track and government’s efforts remain focused on improving the growth trajectory and policy perceptions. Minister Gigaba is currently re-engaging with the private sector to make sure that the joint work of government, business, labour and the civil society continues and that the pledges made thus far are fulfilled.

The leadership in government and the ruling party are firmly committed in improving business and investor confidence in South Africa. As Fitch has rightly mentioned, rhetoric of “radical socioeconomic transformation” does not imply a fundamental policy shift. The main focus of government is to address the long-standing goal of inclusive growth. Fast-tracking the implementation of the structural reforms on growth and addressing the financial and governance issues of some of the SOCs are priorities in the short term.

This outcome demonstrates that South Africans must continue to act in unison especially during difficult times and work even harder to make sure that the country reclaims its investment grade status.

More work lies ahead and as such the National Development Plan, as the overarching policy of government, will continue to drive the decisions aimed at achieving inclusive growth and eradicating the rippling socio-economic challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality.

Issued on behalf of National Treasury
Date: 01 June 2017

Enquiries: Communications Unit
Email: media@treasury.gov.za
Tel: (012) 315 5944

AHI: Moeilike Begroting Weerspieël Taai Ekonomiese en Politieke Omgewing.

 

Die AHI sê die nasionale begroting wat vanmiddag deur die Minister van Finansies, Pravin Gordhan, in die Parlement in Kaapstad ter tafel gelê is, weerspieël ‘n versigtige benadering in die lig van die huidige politieke klimaat.

 

“Dit is in die algemeen ‘n versigtige begroting in die lig van die politieke druk wat onlangs op die Tesourie uitgeoefen is, die lae ekonomiese groeikoers en die toenemende nasionale skuld,” sê die President van die AHI, Mnr. Bernard Swanepoel. “Die AHI is egter besorg daaroor dat nie genoeg klem geplaas is op die bevordering van sterker ekonomiese groei om die transformasie wat in die Begroting beklemtoon is, moontlik te maak nie.”

 

Mnr. Swanepoel sê hoewel die verhoogte persoonlike belastinglas waarskynlik onvermydelik was, sal dit besteebare inkomste noodwendig verminder en bykomende druk op die kleinsakesektor plaas. Die verhoging in die Weerhoudingsbelasting op Dividende en in Kapitaalwinsbelasting sal ook ‘n negatiewe invloed op aftrede- en beleggingsbeplanning hê.

“Ons sal ook graag wil sien hoe die begrote R3,9-miljard vir klein- en mediumsakebevordering toegedeel gaan word. Die voorneme om die land se breëbandtoegang te vergroot en die versnelde kommunikasievermoë wat dit sal meebring, word ook verwelkom.

 

“Ons raad aan ons lede en aan KMO’s in die algemeen is om hulle opnuut te verbind tot groei. Ons sektor behoort die enjin van ekonomiese groei en werkskepping te wees. Ons sal ook voortgaan in ons pogings om die regering te oortuig dat volhoubare groei net bereik kan word as die privaatsektor bevry word van verstikkende rompslomp en belemmerende wetgewing.”

 

Bernard Swanepoel is die President van die AHI, die stem van die kleinsakesektor vir die afgelope 75 jaar.

Navrae: Cobus Bester – woordvoerder  (082) 457-7218

Government Economic Transformation Plan a Denial of Market Principles

SME representative organisation AHI has expressed its disappointment with government’s proposed Radical Social Economic Transformation, announced by President Zuma during his State of the Nation Address at Parliament in Cape Town.

AHI President Bernard Swanepoel said AHI recognised that transformation had been slow, but he expressed his concern that the president and government was not seeking market-led solutions. Mr Swanepoel said improved education and training and a thriving small business sector was internationally recognised as the prerequisite for solid economic growth and development.

He cautioned government against enforcing artificial ownership transfers and introducing new tender provisos which would simply lead to greater government expenditure and increased levels of corruption.

He again invited government to take hands with the private sector in a genuine search for economic solutions. Mr Swanepoel said the answer could not lie in measures which would scare off investors and further weaken economic growth.

 

Bernard Swanepoel is the President of AHI, the voice of small business for 74 years.