The CEO of the Harrismith Business Forum, Ben Deysel, says finance minister Tito Mboweni's call this week for closer public-private partnerships could save one of the country's most important industrial hubs. Harrismith has been battered by a lack of service delivery and electricity cuts since 2011 because the municipality owes Eskom R2.6bn. On Monday, the business forum sought a high court order to stop Eskom cutting the supply altogether. Deysel says the crisis could have been avoided but the Maluti-a-Phofung municipality in the Free State rejected all offers of help. "The private sector has been knocking on the door for many years to say let's take hands and work together," he says. But the council refused to meet them. "The only time we saw municipal officials was when they came and begged us to prepay for our power so that they can pay salaries." And so he was "very encouraged" by Mboweni's words. "If we can just put those words into action, that's the bottom line. But it's a h...

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