Power utility Eskom was owed more than R2.3bn by various municipalities, civil rights organisation AfriForum said on Tuesday.

“Municipalities owe Eskom more than R2.3bn”, spokesperson Tiaan Esterhuizen said in a statement.

“The outstanding debt adds to the country’s electricity woes.”

He said Mpumalanga’s municipal debt to Eskom was more than R800m, while municipalities in the Free State owed more than R570m.

“Taxpayers pay their accounts every month but are left without power as a result of poor financial management by municipalities,” said Esterhuizen.

On Tuesday, Eskom CEO Brian Dames said the country’s power supply remained constrained.

The power utility introduced emergency rostered power cuts, called load shedding, to prevent a collapse of the national power grid because coal supplies for electricity generators were wet.

Esterhuizen said municipalities that failed to pay their accounts should have their licenses to supply electricity revoked.

He said electricity management should be privatised.

“AfriForum believes that privatising electricity management will eliminate the impact of inept municipalities, and solve problems with electricity supply. Privatisation will also streamline debt collection and an accurate invoicing system.”

Comment from co-operative governance spokesperson Botshelo Rakate could not be obtained.