Despite the current respite, all South Africans have first-hand knowledge of Eskom’s struggles to keep the lights on, and the dire consequences of that, especially for businesses. Operationally, the utility, which is responsible for meeting 95% of the nation’s energy needs, is a mess. And then there’s the state of its finances and that debt load of more than R420bn that can potentially cripple the government. An underappreciated risk of Eskom’s meltdown has been its potential impact on the financial sustainability of municipalities, and overlooking this would be a terrible mistake. This, after all, is the level of government that is supposed to be at the forefront of service delivery. Municipalities across the country find themselves in the crosshairs of the power crisis. Local governments are highly dependent on revenues from electricity sales and are the off-takers of more than 40% of the power Eskom generates. It has been a simple and effective way for them to generate income and...

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