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Keep existing power tariffs – ANC

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“The mayor is entitled to a vehicle to do his work. It is not his personal car. He has done nothing wrong and all due processes were followed.

ANC provincial secretary Deshi Ngxanga and ANC provincial deputy secretary Maruping Lekwene during a media briefing yesterday morning. Picture: Soraya Crowie

THE ANC provincial leadership has advised Sol Plaatje Municipality to keep charging the existing electricity tariffs and to only implement price changes once the controversial matter has been resolved.

ANC provincial secretary Deshi Ngxanga said that as tariff changes can only be introduced at the beginning of the financial year (July 1), it was recommended that any tariff changes only be introduced in the 2019/20 financial year as there will not be adequate time to consult.

“It is not simply a matter of postponing the implementation of the R260 levy and increase. We want to give the municipality space to first consult widely and reach an amicable solution with all parties. We cannot allow unaffordable electricity prices,” said Ngxanga.

He stated that the ANC leadership had intervened as it felt that there had not been adequate consultation with communities regarding the introduction of the new electricity tariff structure.

“The executive mayor was requested to postpone the implementation of the new tariff structure and to embark on extensive engagements with the residents of Sol Plaatje Municipality.”

He added that the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) should be involved in the engagements.

“The ANC will establish a task team in the provincial office that will be led by the ANC deputy chairperson and MEC for Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (Coghtsa), Bentley Vass, to monitor the progress and the nature of the engagements with the communities and businesses.”

Ngxanga indicated that there would be “dire consequences” for any ANC official who was caught “with their hands in the cookie jar”.

“ANC members should be beyond reproach and if any criminal allegation proves to be true, we will deal with that person regardless of their position.”

He denied that the Sol Plaatje executive mayor, Mangaliso Matika, was being protected.

“We will always side with the community. We will allow the Hawks and police to complete their investigations. If there is any truth to the allegations, we will be swift to act.”

A charge of assault was laid after a political liaison officer at the municipality was allegedly choked, poked in the eye and slapped through the face by a bodyguard upon instruction from the mayor during an altercation that took place in the council offices in July last year.

The Hawks raided the municipal offices in March 2017 in relation to fraudulent travel claims.

Ngxanga said that he had personally asked for the necessary documents with regards to the assault charge.

“However, up until today no one has come forward and I am unable to act upon speculation. The courts must pronounce on the charges.”

ANC deputy secretary Maruping Lekwene advised the media not to jump to the conclusion that the municipality was milking ratepayers and looting the state through the sale of electricity.

“We are against corruption and we encourage anyone with concrete evidence to report it to the law enforcement agencies,” said Lekwene.

He indicated that the movement would be “leaderless if it relied on rumours”.

“The mayor is entitled to a vehicle to do his work. It is not his personal car. He has done nothing wrong and all due processes were followed.”

Lekwene pointed out that the ANC had responded to Wednesday’s march – the “biggest in the city in post-apartheid South Africa”.

“We cannot wait until our people are marching over exorbitant electricity prices before we act,” he added.

The ANC Frances Baard regional secretary, Webster Dichaba, said they were engaging with their deployees at the municipality to look for alternative methods to resolve this impasse.

“The ANC appreciates the peaceful manner in which the march was conducted and where no violent incidents were reported. The ANC commends the organisers of the march for maintaining discipline throughout the march,” said Dichaba.

He urged the municipality to better co-ordinate its communication strategy relating to the electricity tariffs.

“The conflicting multiple messages create confusion among community members.”