Community representatives gathered in front of the Sol Plaatje Municipality on Wednesday to hand over a memorandum requesting that residents be allowed to purchase electricity directly from Eskom.
MEMBERS of the United Community of Sol Plaatje Municipality are demanding to be immediately migrated over to Eskom to enable residents to purchase electricity directly from the power utility.
The chairperson of the community organisation, David Kok, on Wednesday gave the municipality an ultimatum of 24 hours in which to respond to their demands.
“The municipality must reach out to the relevant institutions to immediately start the process of moving us onto the Eskom grid so that electricity tokens can be purchased directly from them,” said Kok.
“We cannot accept a 50 percent mark-up, we are not mad. The high electricity tariffs, coupled with the Covid-19 pandemic, high unemployment and a local economy that is on life support, will collapse our communities and economy if the government refuses to bail us out.”
Kok also called on the municipality to refrain from blocking the electricity supply of residents and local businesses who were in financial distress.
“The adopted budget must be nullified as due processes were not followed,” he added.
Community members also slammed Sol Plaatje executive mayor Patrick Mabilo, whose outstanding consumer account dating back to June 2019 amounted to R218,817.
“Why has his electricity not been blocked? He must explain why his account is so high.”
Herbert Miller from the United Community of Sol Plaatje Municipality called on Mabilo to settle his account.
“He must also make sure that state entities that owe the municipality billions of rand also pay up. The power supply of our elderly grandmothers who owe R5,000 are immediately suspended if they are in arrears and then they still have to pay R500 to unblock the metre.”
Miller said that the municipality had advised them against purchasing electricity directly from Eskom as the utility would provide poor service.
“Politicians are not taking the community seriously. We are already used to poor service at Sol Plaatje Municipality. At least we will get more units from Eskom.
“No one answers the call centre at Sol Plaatje if you want to report electricity box problems. It takes months before they get back to you. Ritchie does not experience the same problems that we do because they are able to buy electricity directly from Eskom.”
Galeshewe community leader Abner Zeyo believed that residents were paying high electricity tariffs in order to fund the salaries of municipal officials.
“These toxic, plastic politicians will not serve us, they are only there to enrich themselves. We are suffering under this administration; we must stand together against these corrupt individuals. We don’t owe them anything because we buy our electricity. All they do is fart on their chairs at the office. They are serving their selfish interests and lining their pockets.”
Boyce Makodi from the United Community of Sol Plaatje Municipality called for the electricity tariff hike to be suspended.
“R2,80 per unit is insane, as there is high unemployment and the local economy is in tatters,” said Makodi.
“The municipality implemented the price increase despite being warned that it would force businesses to close. Municipal officials are still getting salary increases and buying big cars while the community is suffering.
“We need to stand together, otherwise we are going to come out last while we fight each other for a slice of bread. After 27 years of democracy nothing has improved, we are going the same route as Zimbabwe.”
He added that community members were willing to accept salaries of between R10,000 to R15,000 if they were elected as councillors.
“We will serve the community instead of being political pawns. We do not want to go to the streets or destroy our city. The celebrity politicians should not have access to the bank card – it is our blood, sweat and tears. They want us to remain poor so that when they offer us food parcels we will go running.”
Mabilo said that it would be impossible to provide a response within 24 hours.
“We will provide a response in the next seven working days as the mayoral committee must first study the memorandum. I cannot just give my view, as there are variables that need to be considered,” the mayor said.