No light thrown on free electricity

Riot Hlatshwayo

Municipalities in the Bushbuckridge area in Mpumalanga have not yet started providing residents with free basic electricity.

Mpumalanga MEC for local government and housing Candith Mashego-Dlamini confirmed that Bushbuckridge was among the three municipalities that were "not yet providing free basic electricity".

Mashego-Dlamini was speaking to journalists during her department's quarterly media briefing in Nelspruit yesterday morning.

During their respective visits to the area last year, Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Agriculture Minister Lulu Xingwana promised the issue would be given special attention.

"Not all the municipalities have the licence to provide the free basic electricity."

She cited Thembisile, Nkomazi and Bushbuckridge as some of the municipalities that were not yet providing free basic electricity to their residents.

She said the municipalities were dependant on Eskom for the supply of electricity but that the company also had its own targets to attain.

Bushbuckridge municipality spokesman Zondi Mkhabela confirmed that the area was lagging behind in terms of electricity provision.

"Although we work according to presidential targets we still rely on Eskom's agenda in as far as providing electricity for our people is concerned."

He said the municipality's current goal was to ensure that every household had clean water by 2010 and electricity by 2012.

Mkhabela said Eskom was directly responsible for providing electricity through its own budget, while the municipality helps the company to prioritise needs.

The Bushbuckridge area was in Limpopo before its incorporation into Mpumalanga in March last year.

It has a population of more than 1million people and is regarded as one of the poorest places in the country.