Home News ‘Sol can’t fool the people’

‘Sol can’t fool the people’


Sol Plaatje Municipality is expected to rake in an estimated R10 million every month once the controversial R260 electricity levy comes into effect as from July 1.

IN ATTENDANCE: The Sol Plaatje executive mayor, Mangaliso Matika, at the Galeshewe social centre yesterday. Picture: Soraya Crowie

SOL PLAATJE Municipality is expected to rake in an estimated R10 million every month once the controversial R260 electricity levy comes into effect as from July 1.

A march against Sol Plaatje’s high electricity tariffs will go ahead today amid great confusion regarding the electricity surcharge.

Ratepayers were left bewildered by conflicting messages that were circulated on social media networks and the municipal website, which indicated that the surcharge would no longer be applicable, while others related that no R260 upfront payment would be charged.

Another message, which was reported to have been extracted from the mayor’s budget speech, stated that residential and commercial customers would pay the R260 levy that would be calculated at a daily rate of R8.50.

“This amount will be recovered during the next purchase of prepaid electricity in arrears. The basic charge must be fully paid by the end of the month. This will yield the required revenue from the sale of electricity of R727 million.”

A meeting was held at the social centre in Galeshewe yesterday afternoon, where the Sol Plaatje chief financial officer, Lydia Mahloko, explained the new tariff structure in the hall that was partly filled with community members.

Residents pointed out that while they appreciated the last-minute public relations exercise, the fight would continue for 39 000 households who are not registered as indigents and who would be forced to pay high prices for electricity.

“They do as they want and do not listen to the people.”

The organiser of today’s march, Pantsi Obusitse, worked out that if 39 000 households in the city were expected to pay the electricity levy, it would generate at least R10 million for the municipality each month.

“We are calling for no price hikes and the scrapping of the electricity surcharge. If it is implemented we will be holding marches on a weekly basis,” said Obusitse.

“Residents are struggling to make ends meet and pay for basic services. People are being fooled into believing that they will not be liable for the R260 so as to discourage them from taking part in the march. However, people know better and will be coming out in their numbers.”

He demanded that the municipality explain how it had arrived at the levy and how it planned to spend this income.

“A public relations company that is being paid R1.2 million has been appointed to promote the new tariffs that will be implemented,” said Obusitse.

Manager in the Office of the Mayor, George Mosimane, denied that “anyone had been paid
R1.2 million”.

“We have hired a company to protect the image of the municipality for external services such as the distribution of pamphlets and other services where we do not have the capacity. However, information that is being distributed relating to the awareness campaign relating to the new electricity tariffs is being generated by our internal communications IT sector,” said Mosimane.

He also denied that any new tenders had been awarded for the prepaid electricity meters.

“Itron South Africa is still the appointed service provider.”

Mosimane added that if anyone had evidence of corruption to report it to the police.

“Let them be mature and go to the police instead of spreading misinformation on social media.”

He explained that the R260 levy was not applicable to indigents, who would receive 50 kilowatts of electricity free of charge.

“Paying customers will be charged the R260 but will receive more units for their money, as the tariffs will be lowered. A special council meeting will be held on Thursday (tomorrow) to present a proposal to council to provide relief to middle-income earners so that they pay a lower tariff.”

The Young Communist League of South Africa (YCLSA) yesterday expressed its support for the mass mobilisation against the high electricity tariffs.

YCLSA spokesperson Michia Moncho said they had been engaging with Sol Plaatje Municipality regarding the high electricity prices since 2016.

“The YCLSA in the Province is shocked and upset with the counter communication employed by the municipality to dissuade the community from taking a stand against high electricity prices,” said Moncho.

She believed that the working class and the poor would be hard hit by the R260 electricity levy.

“People have always been overcharged and should be reimbursed through rebates. Only Sol Plaatje Municipality knows why communities are being charged such a high tariff and why profits are being made on essential services that ratepayers are entitled to.”

Moncho added that despite the Province being the leading site for renewable energy, communities did not appear to be benefiting.

The South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) in the Northern Cape also voiced its displeasure over the R260 electricity surcharge and new tariffs.

Sanco provincial secretary Vincent Diraditsile pointed out that the indigent list was outdated.

“The economy is on the decline, unemployment has risen, business confidence has dropped and any hope of attracting investors has been jeopardised by the new electricity tariff charge. For Sol Plaatje Municipality to state that there are 1 500 names on the indigent register for more than the past two years is outrageous,” said Diraditsile.

He indicated that there was no proper breakdown provided on the tariff structure and levy that had been “opportunistically smuggled in by the mayor”.

“The actions and behaviour of the municipality in handling this matter is totally against the spirit of good governance and is in violation of the constitution. The issue of public participation was overlooked and deliberately disregarded. The matter should be reviewed and we appeal to Sol Plaatje Municipality and its political leadership not to ignore the outcry of the legitimate concerns of the poor masses.”