Say "Eskom" and "Harrismith" and most readers would instantly add the word "trouble". After all, the R3bn debt owed by the Harrismith municipality of Maluti-A-Phofung to Eskom is the highest in SA. Eskom is about to launch a series of major power outages to force payment by the municipality, and there is also ongoing legal action against Eskom by Harrismith businesses to test whether other arms of government share responsibility for resolving the impasse. To most outsiders the general picture is of a difficult and fractious relationship. But there is another side: the Ingula wetlands conservation project near Harrismith. This is a world-acclaimed scheme focused on a sensitive wetland, home to some of SA’s most endangered birds and other wildlife. The project has led to Eskom working in close partnership with conservation organisations to protect the wetland and its creatures, while building a now fully commissioned water-based electricity storage project, Eskom’s third hydro-pumped ...

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