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Sol ‘shutdown’ to go ahead

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The Kimberley Action Group said 800 community members are expected to take part in a ‘shutdown’ on Friday to call for the removal of the Sol Plaatje executive mayor, the Speaker and all mayoral committee members if exorbitant electricity price hikes are not halted.

A community meeting took place at the Galeshewe circle earlier this week. Picture: Supplied

THE KIMBERLEY Action Group said 800 community members are expected to take part in a “shutdown” today to call for the removal of Sol Plaatje executive mayor Kagisho Sonyoni, Speaker Nomizizi Maputle and all mayoral committee members if exorbitant electricity prices are not halted.

Residents will start gathering at the One-Stop centre in Roodepan, the Galeshewe circle and Shoprite in Colville from 7am, while Greenpoint and Ritchie residents will meet directly at the municipality.

The organisers said the march, which would proceed from the Kemo Hotel parking lot to Sol Plaatje Municipality, would be peaceful and that no vandalism or looting would be permitted.

Taxis and businesses have been requested not to operate for the duration of the march.

An ordinary council meeting is scheduled to take place today at 10am.

Residents believe that the basic electricity charge has already been introduced without proper consultation.

One local consumer said that after purchasing R1,000 of electricity this month, only 385.20 kilowatts per hour were loaded onto his prepaid metre.

Boyce Makodi from the Kimberley Action Group stated that they had not received a response to a memorandum they had handed over to the municipality. They had given the local authority a deadline of June 28 by which to respond to their grievances.

“We have given the municipality ample time to respond. Residents are feeling the pinch of the 15 percent electricity increase and believe a march is the only way to make their voices heard,” said Makodi.

“Just as much as government keeps on bailing out Eskom, they can also bail out Sol Plaatje Municipality.”

Makodi believed that given the tough economic climate and rolling blackouts, ratepayers should be exempted from further electricity increases.

“Ratepayers are already saddled with the highest tariffs in the country. The 15 percent increase and the basic and capacity charges were introduced illegally. You cannot start consultation after the tariffs have been implemented.

“We also reject the cost of supply study. We have made proposals to the municipality on how to generate income instead of making electricity unaffordable, chasing businesses out of the city and increasing unemployment.”

Makodi advised the municipality to rather address water and electricity losses as well as fraud and corruption to recoup funds.

Kimberley Action Group member David Kok believed that the middleman that was appointed to block non-paying customers and purchase electricity from Eskom on behalf of the municipality was driving higher electricity tariffs.

“Sol Plaatje residents should be allowed to purchase electricity directly from Eskom.”

He pointed out that while no effort was being made to end load shedding, officials and councillors still feel entitled to annual salary increases in line with metro municipalities.

Kimberley Action Group member Herbert Miller added that communities were dissatisfied with the leadership of council and the lack of municipal services.

“They feel undermined as their grievances are not being taken seriously. Councillors are following political instructions instead of taking their mandate from communities.”

He added that, as public representatives, they would not be bought. “We will not sell our souls because no one will benefit. In the past, communities have lost trust in leaders who were bought.

“Indigents and pensioners are being blocked while councillors and officials are not paying their rates and taxes. The municipality is struggling financially yet there is always a budget for salary increases.”

The general secretary of the Provincial Churches Leaders Organisation (PCLO), Pastor David Setilo, said they would be participating in the march.

“The mayor must step down because he is ignoring our pleas for church land. PCLO pastors are frustrated because the executive mayor of Sol Plaatje Municipality, Kagiso Sonyoni, is ignoring our letters,” said Setilo.

“The 2024 elections are around the corner and we will not vote for the ANC. Pastors are willing to sell their votes and change the system.”

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